Iran to host UN nuclear watchdog chief ahead of sanctions deadline

WION Web Team
Tehran, Iran Published: Feb 20, 2021, 04:18 PM(IST)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The dialogue is happening in the backdrop of US President Joe Biden's call for "careful diplomacy". The visit comes in the wake of Biden's call on Friday for European powers to work together to curb Iran's "destabilising" activities, a day after committing to rejoin talks on Tehran's nuclear programme.

UN nuclear watchdog head Rafael Grossi is set to open talks Saturday in Iran on the eve of Tehran's deadline for US sanctions to be lifted.

The dialogue is happening in the backdrop of US President Joe Biden's call for "careful diplomacy". The visit comes in the wake of Biden's call on Friday for European powers to work together to curb Iran's "destabilising" activities, a day after committing to rejoin talks on Tehran's nuclear programme.

The deadline carries the threat of a suspension of some nuclear inspections, stoking international concern about a possible expulsion of UN inspectors. But Iran has stressed it would not cease working with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or expel its inspectors.

Iran and the IAEA have yet to release details on the visit by the UN body's chief Grossi that extends till Sunday.

Grossi will, he wrote Friday on Twitter, "meet with senior Iranian officials to find a mutually agreeable solution, compatible with Iranian law, so that the @iaeaorg can continue essential verification activities in Iran".

"Looking forward to success – this is in everybody’s interest," he added.

Iran has notified the IAEA that it will suspend "voluntary transparency measures", notably inspection visits to non-nuclear sites, including military sites suspected of nuclear-related activity, if the United States has not lifted the sweeping sanctions former president Donald Trump reimposed in 2018.

The new measures are to go into effect on Tuesday.

Iran's atomic body spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said last week that talks with Grossi will focus on how to cease "voluntary actions beyond safeguard (measures) and how to continue cooperation".

Biden told the Munich Security Conference that the United States would work closely with allies in dealing with Iran after his predecessor Trump took an aggressive unilateral approach.

Tehran has repeatedly said it is ready to return to its nuclear commitments on condition that Washington does so first by lifting the sanctions reimposed by Trump that have dealt a heavy blow to Iran's economy.

Former US president Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear accord in 2018, while Iran started the next year to suspend its compliance with most key nuclear commitments in response.

In an opening gesture, the Biden administration has dropped a push for more sanctions crafted by Trump, and removed restrictions on Iranian diplomats accredited to the United Nations in New York.

(with inputs)

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