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Iran nuclear deal

UN nuclear chief arrives in Iran ahead of Tehran’s inspection suspension deadline

Published: Updated:

The UN nuclear watchdog’s director general Rafael Grossi arrived in Iran on Saturday, the eve of Tehran's deadline for US sanctions to be lifted before it partly suspends inspections by the agency to the country’s nuclear facilities.

“Grossi just arrived in Tehran and was received by the [Iran Atomic Energy Organization] deputy [Behrouz] Kamalvandi,” Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency Kazem Gharibabadi said.

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Grossi will meet Iranian nuclear officials including Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the country’s nuclear department and a vice-president to President Hassan Rouhani.

Iran has set Sunday as a deadline for US President Joe Biden to lift sanctions reimposed by former President Donald Trump, or it will halt snap IAEA inspections under the deal, which lifted sanctions in return for curbs on Iran's nuclear program. Next week is also when the IAEA is expected to issue a quarterly report on Iran's nuclear activities.

Biden’s administration has announced its willingness to return to talks to revive the nuclear deal Former President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018.

Biden reversed Trump’s determination that all UN sanctions against Iran had been restored. And the State Department eased stringent restrictions on the domestic travel of Iranian diplomats in New York.

Yet, Tehran demanded that all Trump-era sanctions on Iran be lifted before taking any real action to return to the deal.

But White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki stressed on Friday that the US would not take any additional steps on Iran before diplomatic conversation.

Iran’s government spokesman Ali Rabiei said on Saturday Tehran was confident Washington would lift its sanctions despite ongoing “diplomatic wrangling.”

Reuters reported in an exclusive that the IAEA found uranium particles at two Iranian sites it inspected after months of stonewalling and is preparing to rebuke Tehran for failing to explain, possibly complicating US efforts to revive nuclear diplomacy.

Iran has long denied striving to develop nuclear weapons through uranium enrichment, though its intelligence minister recently said persistent Western pressure could push Tehran to fight back like a “cornered cat” and seek nuclear weapons.

The IAEA has already confirmed that Iran took steps to enrich uranium up to 20 percent and produce uranium metal.

- With Agencies

Read more:

Iran says confident US will lift sanctions despite nuclear deal ‘political wrangling’

White House has no plan to take additional steps on Iran before conversation: Psaki

IAEA finds uranium traces at 2 sites Iran barred it from, will rebuke Tehran: Reuters