Iran inspection work must be ‘preserved’, not used as ‘bargaining chip’: IAEA chief

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The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog appealed Monday for its inspection work in Iran not to become a “bargaining chip” as world powers mull negotiations to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

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“The inspection work of the IAEA must be preserved... (it) should not be put in the middle of a negotiating table as a bargaining chip,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi told a press conference at the start of the agency’s quarterly meeting of its board of governors.

On February 23, Iran suspended some IAEA inspections in response to the US refusal so far to lift sanctions imposed by former president Donald Trump.

Grossi described the suspension of those inspections as a “huge loss”, but when asked if the agency could still reassure the international community that the Iranian nuclear program was exclusively peaceful, he replied: “So far, so good.”

Grossi said the IAEA would continue to have the means to verify the amount of uranium enriched by Iran.

On February 21 Grossi announced after two days of talks with Iranian officials in Tehran that Iran and the IAEA had struck an interim three-month deal to mitigate the impact of the suspended inspections.

Recordings from monitoring equipment the IAEA installed at Iran’s nuclear sites will be kept by Iran for three months and provided to the IAEA if US sanctions are lifted.

European states are considering putting forward a resolution at this week’s meeting condemning Iran’s decision to suspend some inspections.

Iran has said that the introduction of such a resolution would push it to abandon the temporary agreement with the IAEA.

Grossi refused to be drawn on the utility of a critical resolution.

“My appeal to all is to have constructive discussions and to preserve the work of the agency," Grossi said.

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