EghtesdaOnline: Officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency are set to visit Tehran in the coming days to continue discussions over the outstanding safeguards issues, according to Iran’s top nuclear chief.
“Our interaction with the IAEA is underway and I hope a forward step will be taken to remove the existing obstacles,” Mohammad Eslami told reporters on the sidelines of a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, ISNA reported.
The upcoming meetings will most likely center on the UN nuclear watchdog’s questions about the origin and whereabouts of uranium traces that it claims have been found at undeclared sites in Iran.
Iran argues that the data provided to the agency is fake and has been fabricated by enemies.
The director general rejected Iran’s explanation as uncredible in June, paving the way for the passing of a resolution against the country at the IAEA Board of Governors back then, to which Tehran responded by removing surveillance cameras and other equipment from its nuclear facilities.
An earlier visit by IAEA officials was called off in November, after the United States, Britain, France and Germany pushed for another motion against Iran at the 35-nation board’s latest meeting.
An Iranian team travelled to Vienna, Austria, ahead of the board’s November meeting, where they agreed to continue talks to resolve the outstanding issues in a future visit by an IAEA delegation to Tehran, but Iran cancelled the trip.
A foreign ministry spokesman later said the situation had to be reevaluated, adding that the next steps would be taken based on new circumstances.
The 35-nation board eventually adopted the new resolution, ordering Iran to cooperate urgently with the agency’s investigation into the nuclear particles.
The recent resolution has stronger wording and hints at a future diplomatic escalation.
“The wrong move of adopting a resolution against our country, as said earlier, will face a strong response by Iran,” Eslami said at the time.
Iran later took a set of countermeasures, including the enrichment of uranium at 60% purity level in the underground facility at Fordow.
The three European powers, known as the E3, said in a joint statement afterwards that Iran’s production of high enriched uranium at the Fordow fuel enrichment plant is “a challenge to the global non-proliferation system.”
“Presenting this escalation as a reaction to the IAEA Board of Governors’ adoption of a resolution calling for Iran’s cooperation on safeguards is unacceptable. Iran is legally obliged under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to fully implement its safeguards agreement,” the statement said.
Eslami, however, maintained that all the nuclear measures were within the framework of the agency’s regulations.
“Iran’s nuclear industry development program is within the framework of the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and it is our legal right,” he said.
The E3 also condemned Iran for expanding its nuclear program beyond the limits of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“By [taking these measures] Iran has taken further significant steps in hollowing out the JCPOA,” they contended.
The JCPOA has been unravelling since the United States pulled out and reimposed tough sanctions on Tehran, which reacted by rowing back on its commitments.
Talks to restore the deal have been stalled for months over final differences, including Iran’s demand for the closure of the IAEA probe into uranium traces.