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Thursday June 13, 2024

IAEA chief seeks tougher nuclear checks in Iran, with limited leverage

Iran is enriching uranium to up to 60 percent purity, close to the around 90 percent of weapons grade

By Reuters
May 07, 2024
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi speaks during an interview with Reuters in Tokyo, Japan, March 12, 2024. — Reuters
 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi speaks during an interview with Reuters in Tokyo, Japan, March 12, 2024. — Reuters

VIENNA: UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi flew to Iran on Monday hoping to bolster his agency’s oversight of Tehran’s atomic activities after various setbacks, but analysts and diplomats say he has limited leverage and must be wary of empty promises.

Then-US president Donald Trump’s decision in 2018 to ditch a landmark deal between Iran and major powers that exchanged nuclear restrictions for sanctions relief caused that accord to unravel. Iran has since accelerated its uranium enrichment and reduced cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“The level of inspection (in Iran) is not at the level we should have,” Grossi told Sky News last month.“Given the depth and breadth of the programme, we should be having additional monitoring capabilities,” said Grossi, who is due to meet officials including chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian.

Iran is enriching uranium to up to 60 percent purity, close to the around 90 percent of weapons grade. If that material were enriched further, it would suffice for two nuclear weapons, according to an official IAEA yardstick.

Iran has also limited the IAEA’s ability to do its job properly. It faces an array of problems, from Tehran’s continued failure to explain uranium traces found at undeclared sites to its barring of almost all the IAEA’s top enrichment experts.