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IAEA Chief meets top Iranian officials ahead of Vienna talks

November 23, 2021 at 6:53 pm

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian (L) meets with the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi (R) at the foreign ministry headquarters in the capital Tehran on November 23, 2021 [ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images]

Less than a week prior to resumption of nuclear talks in Vienna, the UN nuclear watchdog chief met with top Iranian officials in Tehran on Tuesday, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Rafael Grossi, the head of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), during his whirlwind visit held talks with Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the first meeting between the two officials.

Iran’s top diplomat expressed his country’s willingness to “constructively interact” with the IAEA within the framework of the Safeguards Agreement, said a statement by the Foreign Ministry.

He also stressed the importance of the UN agency’s “technical, professional and impartial work” as well as the need to “avoid foreign political pressures.”

READ: Iran-IAEA conflict brewing over nuke sites ahead of Vienna talks

The visiting UN official, for his part, expressed readiness to continue close cooperation with Iran and to “resolve remaining technical issues” between the two sides, the statement said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Grossi held wide-ranging talks followed by a joint press conference with Iran’s Nuclear Agency Chief, Mohammad Eslami, during which both officials agreed to “bolster cooperation and seek common ground” on outstanding technical issues.

Describing his work in Tehran as “intense”, Grossi said there are multiple issues that need clarification.

Eslami told reporters that the UN official acknowledged he had not seen any diversion in Iran’s nuclear activities, and emphasised that all issues between the two sides are of technical nature.

On Monday, the IAEA chief said on Twitter he was travelling to Tehran “to address outstanding questions” while expressing hope to “establish a fruitful and cooperative channel of direct dialogue” with Iran.

The visit came on the heels of the IAEA board of governors meeting in Vienna this week.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, on Monday called on the UN agency to not allow certain countries to “abuse its name for the sake of achieving their own political agendas.”

Conflict has been brewing between Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog after a recent IAEA report noted significant increase in Iran’s stockpile of highly enriched uranium.

The IAEA report quoted Grossi as expressing “deep concern” over the presence of nuclear material at “three undisclosed locations” in the country, which it said are not known to the agency.

In response, Iran’s acting representative to Vienna called on the agency member states to “not issue hasty or politically-motivated statements” on Iran’s cooperation with the UN nuclear agency.

READ: Iran has increased its stockpile of enriched uranium significantly, says IAEA