IAEA chief: Nuclear inspections in Iran should not be used as 'bargaining chip'
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says the issue of nuclear inspections in Iran should not be used as a “bargaining chip” in any talks on the nuclear deal that Tehran clinched with six world powers in 2015.
According to Press TV, Rafael Grossi made the remarks while speaking to reporters ahead of a meeting of the IAEA’s Board of Governors in Vienna on Monday, during which the world body was expected to discuss, among other things, Iran’s nuclear issue, including a new deal stuck between Tehran and the Agency last month.
According to the deal, Iran will stop implementing the Additional Protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) for a period of three months during which the IAEA’s inspectors’ access to the country’s nuclear facilities will be curtailed and made limited to those stipulated by the Safeguards Agreement.
"The inspection work of the IAEA must be preserved... (it) should not be put in the middle of a negotiating table as a bargaining chip," Grossi said.
The IAEA director general described the suspension of the Agency’s inspections as a "huge loss," but when asked if the Agency could still reassure the international community that the Iranian nuclear program was exclusively peaceful, he replied: "So far, so good," AFP reported.
He also noted that the Agency will continue to have the means to verify the amount of uranium enriched by Iran.
Asked about the latest developments regarding Iran’s nuclear issue, Grossi said he did not want anything to jeopardize his inspectors' work in the Islamic Republic.
"What I hope is that the work of the Agency will be preserved. This is essential," he was quoted by Reuters as saying.
In recent weeks, Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads over which side should first return to compliance with the JCPOA, which former US President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018.
Iran says the US should first lift all the sanctions put in place under the Trump administration before the Islamic Republic returns to full compliance. Tehran believes it was the White House that complicated the circumstances by the pullout, which in turn prompted Iran to take remedial measures.
However, as the US refrained from lifting sanctions before a deadline set by Tehran, Iran announced that the country stopped the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol that allowed the IAEA to carry out short-notice inspections of the country’s nuclear facilities.