IAEA visits Iran as US prepares to re-enter nuclear deal

Officials from Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation will meet with the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi,

IAEA Rafael Grossi

Photo: AP/Ronald Zak

Officials from Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation will meet with the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, today in Tehran. Grossi is expected to discuss Iran’s decision to discontinue short-notice inspections under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Since 2015, Iran has allowed the IAEA to conduct such inspections of its nuclear facilities under the NPT’s Additional Protocol, through the application of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal. Following the US’s 2018 withdrawal from the JCPOA and Washington’s subsequent reinstitution of economic sanctions against Iran, Tehran stopped observing JCPOA-set limits on its uranium enrichment program. Responding to the November 2020 assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s parliament voted to allow further enrichment activities and end observation of the Additional Protocol.

In today’s talks, expect Grossi to attempt to salvage the JCPOA by urging Iranian officials to continue permitting short-notice inspections and retain JCPOA restrictions on uranium enrichment. As the new Biden administration and President Hassan Rouhani’s government in Iran support the deal (despite disagreements over the first steps towards fully returning to it), expect both countries to re-enter compliance with the JCPOA. Re-entry will likely further US-Iranian dialogue over contested regional issues, including Iranian-backed militias in Syria and Yemen.

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