EU, US ask Iran to offer access to IAEA

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VIENNA: The EU and therefore the US on Monday urged Iran to permit inspectors access to a nuclear site, while Tehran argued the power was exempt from a recent agreement with the UN watchdog.

The Vienna-based International nuclear energy Agency (IAEA) said on Sunday it had been denied “indispensable” access to the TESA Karaj centrifuge component manufacturing workshop near Tehran contrary to a Sept 12 agreement with Iran.

Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharibabadi on Monday rejected the charge.

“During the discussions in Tehran and Vienna, Iran indicated that…equipment associated with this Complex aren’t included for servicing,” he tweeted, pertaining to IAEA work on its surveillance equipment.

Sunday’s IAEA statement “isn’t accurate and goes beyond the agreed terms,” he added.

At a Vienna meeting of the IAEA board of governors on Monday, the EU said it urged Iran to permit access “without any longer delay”, expressing its “deepest concern”. “This may be a worrying development,” a press release said.

The US likewise said it had been “deeply troubled” and urged access “without further delay”.

“If Iran fails to try to to so, we’ll be closely consulting with other board members within the coming days on an appropriate response,” Louis Bono, the US representative to the IAEA, said without giving further details.

Earlier this month, discussions of a resolution at the board of governors censuring Iran were dropped, consistent with diplomats, after the IAEA and Tehran agreed on limited but continued access for the agency. The agreement came days after the nuclear watchdog had decried a scarcity of cooperation from Tehran.

But in his latest report on Iran to members Sunday, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said that agency inspectors had been allowed access to “all necessary locations” except the TESA Karaj workshop from Sept 20-22.

The news comes amid stalled EU-brokered negotiations to revive a 2015 landmark agreement scaling back Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

That deal began to disintegrate in 2018 when the US withdrew from it and reinstated sanctions. Iran successively again began to build up its nuclear activities.

Talks began in April in Vienna between Tehran and therefore the remaining five parties to the 2015 deal aimed toward bringing Washington back. But that dialogue has been stalled since June, when ultraconservative Ebrahim Raisi won Iran’s presidential election.

Iran’s secretary of state said that talks would restart “very soon”, but the US has involved a transparent timetable.

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