UN atomic watchdog chief visits Iran amid nuclear tensions

UN nuclear watchdog head Rafael Grossi arrived in Iran on Monday to attend a nuclear conference and engage in discussions with Iranian officials regarding Tehran’s nuclear program, amidst escalating regional tensions.

Grossi addressed Iran’s inaugural International Conference on Nuclear Science and Technology and held talks with Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and Atomic Energy Organization chief Mohammad Eslami.

The visit followed the International Atomic Energy Agency’s criticism of Iran’s lack of cooperation on inspections and unresolved issues.

Eslami expressed optimism about cooperation with the IAEA at the conference’s opening, emphasizing Iran’s commitment to the agency’s independent role.

The event took place in Isfahan province, home to the Natanz uranium enrichment plant, recently targeted in strikes attributed to Israel.

While both the IAEA and Iranian officials reported no damage from the Isfahan attack, tensions remained high, exacerbated by Iran’s suspension of compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal after the US withdrawal and subsequent sanctions.

Efforts to revive the deal had stalled, with Iran increasing uranium enrichment levels, although it denied seeking nuclear weapons.

Grossi’s visit provided an opportunity for dialogue, particularly regarding IAEA inspections, following Iran’s withdrawal of accreditation for several inspectors. Tehran attributed this move to political pressure from certain countries.

Despite these challenges, Eslami highlighted Iran’s extensive cooperation with IAEA inspections, claiming it exceeded that of any other nation.

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