Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 1 December 2020

Iran to allow UN investigators access to suspected nuclear sites

Tehran has previously said the nuclear watchdog had no legal basis to visit

President Hassan Rouhani meets the head of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi in Tehran. AP
President Hassan Rouhani meets the head of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi in Tehran. AP

Tehran will allow inspectors in to two sites where Iran is suspected of previously storing or using undeclared nuclear material, the UN’s atomic watchdog said on Wednesday.

Following intense discussions with Iran, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said access dates had been agreed although they were not officially announced.

“Iran is voluntarily providing the IAEA with access to the two locations specified by the IAEA and facilitating the IAEA verification activities to resolve these issues,” the agency and Iran said in a joint statement.

Iran had been resisting providing access to the sites, which are thought to date back to the early 2000s, before it signed a 2015 deal with world powers to limit its nuclear capacity. It has long insisted that the IAEA had no legal basis to visit them.

The announcement came after IAEA chief Rafael Grossi visited Iran to push for access and the head of the Iranian nuclear agency, Ali Akbar Salehi, confirmed that his country had agreed to the inspections. Mr Grossi said he expected access very soon.

His visit to Tehran was his first since taking over as the agency's leader in December.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who on Wednesday met with the IAEA chief, said Mr Grossi's trip had produced a “good agreement that can help for moving on a correct and proper path and achieve the final resolution of problems.”

The IAEA's board of governors had passed a resolution in late June put forward by Britain, France and Germany, urging Tehran to provide inspectors access to the two disputed sites.

Until last year, the IAEA had said that Iran had been complying with the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

But the country began breaking the deal’s limits on nuclear enrichment in 2019 in response to heavy US sanctions after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord. Iran now no longer follows any of the specified limitations.

Updated: August 27, 2020 08:55 PM

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