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Iran Sways between Optimism, Pessimism with IAEA

Iran Sways between Optimism, Pessimism with IAEA

Thursday, 16 March, 2023 - 08:30
An IAEA inspector during the installation of surveillance cameras at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran, August 2005 (AP - ISNA)

In the grey area between optimism and pessimism, Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman of Iran’s atomic agency, said Tehran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) must find political and technical solutions to outstanding issues.

Iran has agreed with the IAEA regarding three locations where traces of uranium were found, Kamalvandi told reporters on Tuesday.

“If there will be further questions, we will answer and talk to each other to determine how these issues can be followed up,” added Kamalvandi.

The IAEA has long demanded that Iran explain the reasons behind inspectors finding traces of uranium in the cities of Varamin and Turquzabad in southern Tehran and the city of Abadeh in Fars province.

Kamalvandi said that discussions underway with the IAEA revolve around the agency finding traces of U-236 in the three sites.

According to the Iranian spokesman, the traces belong to material transported by a Russian company working in Iran.

Earlier this month, the IAEA said Iran had given widespread assurances to finally cooperate in the long-stalled investigation of undeclared sites.

Upon his return from Tehran, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi told reporters that he had received promises from Iranian officials that Tehran would cooperate by giving the agency information and access to undeclared sites.

This would have indicated a significant improvement after Iranian stalling for years, but Tehran later denied having approved site access or allowing inspectors to talk to concerned officials.

“The issue of letting people in never came up during Grossi’s two-day visit to Iran,” said Kamalvandi, adding that there was no agreement regarding installing new cameras at Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Last Friday, Grossi announced that talks that had been agreed upon with Iranian officials could begin early this week. He said the exchanges could extend to between a week and ten days.

“This path is a step forward, but the future is grey. I am neither optimistic or pessimistic,” Kamalvandi told state-owned ISNA then.

Kamalvandi added that such issues must be resolved in their political and technical dimensions.

Before the recent agreement with Grossi, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian called on the IAEA to solve outstanding issues “from a technical, non-political perspective.” Iranian officials repeated this request during Grossi’s visit.

Discussions about reviving the Iran nuclear deal stopped in March 2022, and the latest attempt at mediation by the EU to return to the agreement failed last September.

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