Iran agrees to visit by UN's nuclear watchdog

The IAEA is set to hold its next quarterly board meeting next week

Iran has installed new centrifuges at underground plants in Natanz, above, and Fordow. AFP
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Iran has reportedly agreed to a visit by the UN's nuclear watchdog this month as the International Atomic Energy Agency seeks answers on Tehran's continued uranium enrichment.

The watchdog on Wednesday said Iran was further expanding its production of enriched uranium above levels prohibited under the abandoned 2015 nuclear deal. It has enough highly-enriched uranium to produce a nuclear bomb.

The IAEA is set to hold its next quarterly board meeting next week, where western powers are expected to push for a resolution urging Tehran to co-operate. Concerns over Iran's nuclear capabilities were further raised on Wednesday after it announced it had developed a hypersonic missile able to breach “all” missile defence systems.

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi “takes note of Iran's proposal to hold a further technical meeting, but stresses that this meeting should be aimed at effectively clarifying and resolving those issues”, read a confidential report sent to the 35 member states before the meeting.

The watchdog “expects to start receiving from Iran technically credible explanations on these issues, including access to locations and material, as well as the taking of samples as appropriate”, it said.

It will meet Iranian officials by the end of this month, Mr Grossi told Reuters on Wednesday.

Tehran is not expected to take concrete action to comply with IAEA standards.

It has repeatedly increased its uranium enrichment since the breakdown of the 2015 nuclear deal, installing hundreds of new centrifuges at underground plants in Natanz and Fordow.

The 2015 deal only allowed Iran to produce enriched uranium with more basic, first-generation centrifuges.

The country has pursued its nuclear agenda with force, despite sanctions, since the US withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018.

A senior US diplomat told The National last month that Iran was holding up progress on a nuclear deal with world powers by “moving the goalposts” and introducing new challenges to the 18-month talks.

“The Iranians are the ones that have to make the steps to come back to the JCPOA,” said Laura Holgate, the US ambassador to the IAEA.

Updated: November 11, 2022, 7:18 AM