San Francisco Chronicle
Tehran to reduce access of U.N. nuclear inspectors
TEHRAN — Iran will provide United Nations inspectors “less access” to its nuclear program as part of its pressure campaign on the West, though investigators will still be able to monitor Tehran’s work, the U.N. atomic watchdog’s chief said Sunday.
Rafael Grossi’s comments came after an emergency trip to Iran in which he said the International Atomic Energy Agency reached a “technical understanding” with Tehran to continue to allow monitoring of its nuclear program for up to three months. But his remarks underlined a narrowing window for the U.S. and others to reach terms with Iran, which is already enriching and stockpiling uranium at levels far beyond those allowed by its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
“The hope of the IAEA has been to stabilize a situation which was very unstable,” Grossi said after his arrival back in Vienna, where the agency is based. “I think this technical understanding does it so that other political consultations at other levels can take place and most importantly we can avoid a situation in which we would have been, in practical terms, flying blind.”
Grossi, the IAEA’s director general, offered few specifics of the agreement. He said the number of inspectors on the ground would remain the same but that “what changes is the type of activity” the agency was able to carry out, without elaborating further. He stressed monitoring would continue “in a satisfactory manner.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who under President Hassan Rouhani helped reach the atomic accord, said before his meeting with Grossi that the IAEA would be prevented from accessing footage from their cameras at nuclear sites.
Grossi didn’t address Zarif ’s camera remarks Sunday night, but stressed that European and U.S. leaders needed to salvage the situation through negotiations.
In 2018, thenPresident Donald Trump pulled the U.S. unilaterally out of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, saying it needed to be renegotiated. From Washington, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said President Biden remained willing to negotiate with Iran over a return to the nuclear deal.