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Monday June 24, 2024

Death of Iran’s president has delayed talks with IAEA, says Grossi

By Reuters
May 23, 2024
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi holds a press conference on the opening day of a quarterly meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors in Vienna, Austria, March 4, 2024. — Reuters
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi holds a press conference on the opening day of a quarterly meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors in Vienna, Austria, March 4, 2024. — Reuters

HELSINKI: The deaths of Iran’s president and foreign minister in a helicopter crash have caused a pause in the UN nuclear watchdog’s talks with Tehran over improving cooperation with the agency, the watchdog’s chief Rafael Grossi told Reuters on Wednesday.

“They are in a mourning period which I need to respect,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Grossi said in Helsinki, where he spoke at a nuclear conference. “But once this is over, we are going to be engaging again,” he said, describing it as a “temporary interruption that I hope will be over in a matter of days”.

Grossi said the IAEA was planning to continue technical discussions with Iran but they had not yet taken place due to last weekend’s helicopter crash that killed President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian. The IAEA faces a range of challenges in Iran, from Tehran’s recent barring of many of the most experienced uranium-enrichment experts on its inspection team to Iran’s continued failure to explain uranium traces found at undeclared sites despite a years-long IAEA investigation.

The IAEA has been trying to expand its oversight of Iran’s atomic activities while the country’s uranium-enrichment programme continues to advance. Iran is enriching uranium to up to 60 percent purity, close to the 90 percent of weapons-grade, which no other country has done without developing nuclear weapons.