Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Iran rejects UN nuclear watchdog chief’s planned visit next month


Iran’s Nuclear Chief Dismisses IAEA Head’s Planned Visit, Invites Him to Conference in May

In a recent development, Iran’s nuclear chief, Mohammad Eslami, has dismissed the suggestion that the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, would visit Iran next month. Instead, Eslami extended an invitation to Grossi to attend an international nuclear energy conference in Tehran in May.

Grossi had expressed concerns about Iran’s continued enrichment of uranium well beyond the needs for commercial nuclear use. He had indicated his intention to visit Tehran next month to address the growing rift between the IAEA and Iran. However, Eslami cited a busy schedule as the reason for the unlikelihood of a visit next month, without providing further details.

Despite the absence of a planned visit, Eslami emphasized that Iran’s interactions with the IAEA were ongoing, with discussions aimed at resolving ambiguities and enhancing cooperation. He made these remarks during a weekly press conference in Tehran, where he also extended the invitation to Grossi for the upcoming nuclear energy conference in May.

Grossi had highlighted Iran’s continued enrichment of uranium at a rate of around 7kg per month to 60 percent purity. Enrichment to this level brings uranium close to weapons grade, raising concerns about Iran’s nuclear intentions. While Iran maintains that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, the enrichment levels have raised alarms within the international community.

The 2015 nuclear agreement, which was designed to limit Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, specified that Iran could only enrich uranium to 3.67 percent. However, following the withdrawal of the United States from the agreement in 2018 and the reimposition of sanctions, Iran has progressively breached these limits.

The UN nuclear watchdog has expressed concerns about the deteriorating state of the 2015 nuclear deal, stating that it is on the verge of disintegration. The escalating tensions between Iran and the IAEA have further complicated efforts to address Iran’s nuclear activities and ensure compliance with international regulations.

As the situation continues to unfold, the invitation extended by Eslami to Grossi for the upcoming nuclear energy conference in May presents an opportunity for dialogue and engagement. The conference could serve as a platform for addressing key issues related to Iran’s nuclear program and exploring avenues for cooperation between Iran and the international community.

In conclusion, while the planned visit of the IAEA head to Iran next month may not materialize as initially suggested, the invitation to attend the upcoming nuclear energy conference in May underscores the importance of continued dialogue and engagement on critical nuclear issues. As Iran’s nuclear activities remain under scrutiny, constructive engagement between Iran and the IAEA is essential to address concerns and uphold international norms in the realm of nuclear non-proliferation.

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