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Iran wants to reconnect nuclear cameras, intensify inspections: IAEA

VIENNA – Iran has agreed to reconnect surveillance cameras at several nuclear sites and increase the pace of inspections, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Saturday.

The head of the UN nuclear regulator, Rafael Grossi, welcomed “a significant improvement” in his talks with the Iranian government.

Grossi was in Tehran for talks with Iranian officials following the discovery of uranium particles enriched to near weapons-grade levels.

On his return to Vienna, Grossi recalled that there had been “a reduction in surveillance activities related to cameras and surveillance systems” and said “we have agreed that these will be put back into operation”.

“This is very, very important” in terms of continuity of knowledge, “especially in relation to the possibility of the JCPOA being revived,” he said.

Grossi arrived in Iran on Friday amid deadlocked talks to revive the landmark 2015 deal on Iran’s nuclear activities, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

He told reporters on Saturday night: “We’ve pressured the bleeding of information and the lack of continuity in the knowledge we had – so we can now get back to work and reconstruct that information base.”

He said the measures should come into effect “very soon” after a technical meeting, but no precise timetables were set in a joint statement with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).

– Inspections –

Grossi’s two-day visit came as the Vienna-based IAEA sought greater cooperation with Iran on its nuclear activities.

In his series of meetings with Iranian officials, Grossi met President Ebrahim Raisi.

Raisi acknowledged that “Cooperation is a two-way street…(and) can proceed on the basis of upholding the agency’s independence and the rights of the Iranian nation,” political deputy to the Iranian presidency Mohammad Jamshidi tweeted.

A diplomatic source previously told AFP the meeting with Raisi was meant to “restart dialogue” on Iran’s nuclear work and “reinvigorate ties at the highest level.”

Particles of uranium enriched up to 83.7 percent – just below the 90 percent needed to make a nuclear bomb – have been discovered at Iran’s underground Fordo facility some 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of Tehran, according to a confidential IAEA report available to AFP this week.

Grossi said the IAEA must continue to inspect the facility, and Iran has agreed to “50 percent more inspections” there.

Iran denies that it intends to acquire nuclear weapons and says it has made no attempt to enrich uranium beyond 60 percent purity.

However, the Iranian government said that “unintended fluctuations… may have occurred” during the enrichment process.

The discovery came after Iran significantly altered a link between two uranium-enriching centrifuge clusters, without telling the IAEA.

– ‘Obligations’ –

On Saturday, Iran’s top nuclear official, Mohammad Eslami, called on all parties to the 2015 deal to fulfill their “commitments”.

“Three European and some other countries are only focused on Iran’s JCPOA commitments,” he told reporters. “They, too, have obligations that they must abide by.”

“We have reached an agreement (with Grossi) to define our cooperation within the framework of safeguards” for nuclear activities, he added.

“The relevant authorities will make a decision” if a solution is reached, and the Iranian nuclear agency will abide by that decision, he said.

“Iran never sacrifices its national interests for anything else,” Eslami said.

Depending on the outcome of Grossi’s trip, the United States, Britain, France and Germany will decide whether to submit a draft resolution on censorship of Iran to the IAEA Board of Governors, which meets in Vienna next week.

Grossi also met with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Saturday, the official IRNA news agency reported.

During his visit, he aimed to “secure more access to the (Fordo) site and more inspections,” the diplomatic source said.

– “Enhanced Cooperation” –

The 2015 deal between Iran and world powers promised Tehran an exemption from harsh economic sanctions in exchange for a curb on its nuclear activities.

The restrictions laid down in the agreement, including the 3.67 percent enrichment threshold, were intended to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

The United States unilaterally withdrew from the pact under then-President Donald Trump in 2018 and reimposed sanctions, prompting Iran to suspend implementation of its own commitments.

Negotiations to revive the deal began in 2021 but have stalled since last year.

Grossi’s visit was taken in Iran as another indication that a dialogue-based approach to resolving the nuclear standoff is possible.

In November 2022, Western nations criticized Iran for its lack of cooperation after traces of enriched uranium were found at three undeclared sites.

Kelsey Davenport, an expert at the Arms Control Association think tank, said: “Iran’s willingness to step up surveillance is a positive and necessary step to de-escalate tensions and reduce the risk of misperceptions.”

But she warned that it was “crucial” for all sides to implement the measures quickly, saying the announcement was “insufficient to mitigate the growing proliferation risk posed by Iran’s advancing nuclear program.”

She said the United States and European countries should “try to capitalize on this momentum with a diplomatic push to bring Iran back into negotiations.”

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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