Iran calls for depoliticization of UN nuclear watchdog after France urges it to act

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Iran called on Friday for the depoliticization of the UN nuclear watchdog, after France had urged the organization to “send a strong message to Tehran” over disputed nuclear activities and a lack of cooperation.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-nation governing board is due to begin meeting on Nov. 24 in Vienna, five days before talks are due to resume on reviving Iran’s nuclear deal with global powers.

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Complaints from the UN body that Iran has not fully cooperated with monitors could make it more difficult to revive the agreement, under which Iran accepted curbs on its nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

“As a responsible member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has always emphasized that the IAEA’s reputation as a technical and specialized body of the United Nations must be free of any political conduct,” said an Iranian Foreign Ministry statement in a twitter feed.

French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre had said on Thursday that the watchdog’s governing board should act, after agency reports highlighted issues over Tehran’s nuclear program. Western nations say they fear it has military aims while Tehran insists it is purely peaceful.

According to IAEA reports on Wednesday, Iran had still not granted IAEA inspectors access it promised two months ago to re-install monitoring cameras at a workshop that was the site of apparent sabotage in June.

Legendre said Iran “must return without delay to fulfilling all its commitments and obligations to the IAEA, resume cooperation with the agency and return to full implementation” of the 2015 nuclear deal.

She did not clarify what she meant by a strong message. Diplomats have said it is unlikely Western powers would take action against Iran before the negotiations on reviving the nuclear accord resume.

Western powers scrapped plans in September for an IAEA board resolution rebuking Iran, after Tehran agreed to prolong monitoring of some nuclear activities and invited IAEA chief Rafael Grossi to Tehran for talks. Grossi is again due in Tehran ahead of the IAEA board meeting.

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