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August 24, 2020 3:54 pm

IAEA Chief in Tehran, Seeks Access to Iranian Nuclear Sites

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Grossi addresses the media after a Board of Governors meeting at the IAEA headquarters, in Vienna, Austria, June 15, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Leonhard Foeger / File.

The UN nuclear watchdog’s chief Rafael Grossi arrived in Iran on Monday, Iranian state TV reported, as he sought access for inspectors to two suspected former atomic sites after a months-long standoff between Tehran and the body.

Tehran said Grossi’s visit would “strengthen ties and build trust” between Tehran and the IAEA. However, in a statement on Saturday, Grossi said he would address “the outstanding questions, in particular, the issue of the access.”

“As long as the IAEA moves based on impartiality, independence and distances itself from political pressure of another countries, there will be no problems between the IAEA and Tehran,” Iran‘s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters, state TV reported.

A senior Iranian nuclear official said on Sunday that the IAEA wanted access and inspection of “two places,” one near Tehran and the other near the central city of Isfahan.

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Grossi’s visit comes after Washington’s last week pushed at the UN Security Council to reimpose international sanctions on Tehran that were lifted under Iran‘s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

However, Iranian authorities said Grossi’s visit was not related to the US move to return all sanctions on Iran, which other parties to the deal — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — have not supported.

In 2018, President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement and reimposed some sanctions that have crippled Tehran’s economy. Iran has retaliated by reducing compliance with the pact’s restrictions.

Khatibzadeh said Grossi would meet high-ranking Iranian officials during his visit, including the foreign minister and the country’s nuclear chief.

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