Iran allowing only a fraction of monitoring needed at nuclear sites, IAEA says

Rafael Grossi says some monitoring devices have been installed for the first time but many more are necessary

Rafael Grossi attends the IAEA's Board of Governors meeting at the agency's headquarters in Vienna on Monday. AFP
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Iran is only allowing a “fraction” of the monitoring equipment at its nuclear sites that the UN’s nuclear watchdog expects, the organisation's head said.

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, revealed Iran has for the first time allowed devices at two plants to detect uranium enrichment levels.

Earlier this year Mr Grossi visited Iran and met President Ebrahim Raisi, after which a Joint Statement was issued stating Tehran “will allow the IAEA to implement further appropriate verification and monitoring activities”.

The director general said for the first time the IAEA has installed an enrichment monitoring device at two uranium enrichment sites, at Fordow and Natanz.

“This will help us detect more rapidly any variations in enrichment levels at these facilities,” he said in a statement ahead of a regular meeting of the IAEA’s board of governors.

“But this is a fraction of what we envisaged and what needs to happen now is a sustained and uninterrupted process that leads to all the commitments contained in the Joint Statement being fulfilled without further delay.”

Grossi later admitted that cooperation with Iran on better monitoring its nuclear programme was "very slow" and while some cameras and other equipment had been installed again "a lot more" needed to be done.

In March, Iran agreed to reconnect surveillance cameras at several nuclear sites almost a year after they were turned off.

"There is a lot more that needs to be done We need to go faster," he told a press conference.

Mr Grossi was speaking ahead of the release of a new report into the monitoring and verification of Iran’s nuclear programme.

He confirmed reports that Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium has risen by more than a quarter in three months.

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Experts believe Iran is keeping the door open for further compromise or further pressure in a bid to potentially ease nuclear-related sanctions.

But any revival of the defunct 2015 nuclear deal is unlikely due to actions which have angered the US and the EU.

These include building more nuclear facilities deep underground, developing new ballistic missiles, sending weapons to Russia and cracking down on protesters.

Under the 2015 deal, UN inspectors were given access to Iran's research sites, curbs were placed on its nuclear activities and a limit was set on uranium enrichment, in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

The US pulled out of the deal in 2018, with Donald Trump saying the deal was flawed and would allow Iran to continue military nuclear research.

Negotiations to revive it began in April 2021 in Vienna, involving the EU, US, China, Russia and Iran, but talks appeared to have stalled.

Updated: June 06, 2023, 5:18 AM