top of page

Source: The Guardian

Feb 7, 2023

IAEA head Rafael Grossi wants ‘reset’ with Iran but admits he doesn’t know if the 2015 nuclear deal can be revived

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency has said he will need to go to Tehran very soon to restore his inspectorate’s ability to monitor Iran’s nuclear programme.

Rafael Grossi also said that Iran should not have carried out recent unilateral changes at the Fordow nuclear plant, which will require increased inspections. The modifications, discovered by the IAEA and reported to the board of governors last month, involved an undeclared change to the interconnection between two machines enriching advanced uranium.

Speaking at Chatham House in London, he said: “There has been a modification that should have been reported. You cannot go back and right this wrong. The thing is that, of course, with this modification, the facility has new capabilities so we have to inspect more.”

His remarks suggest Grossi was not convinced by the Iranian explanation that the changes at the plant had been due to a human error and had been corrected.

But he insisted he wanted a reset with Iran. He said recent denials of access for his inspectors by the Iranians meant “it will be very difficult to restore a complete picture of what we have in the Islamic Republic in terms of nuclear infrastructure”.

Admitting he did not know if the 2015 nuclear deal with western powers could ever be revived, he said “[Iranian authorities] gradually started to shut down the visibility of the agency on a number of things, which are very, very important.

That is the gap that worries me at this point in time. Because we are losing this visibility, and the [nuclear] programme continues to work – this is why I need to go to Tehran. We need to talk and we need to do it soon.”

Grossi has previously visited Tehran in a bid to restore his inspection team’s ever-diminishing access to Iran’s nuclear sites, but often returned with only slight modifications.

There is also an ongoing standoff between the IAEA and Iran over the regime’s inability to explain the presence of nuclear particles at three previously undeclared sites.

Rossi rejected Iranian claims he was seeking to politicise the issue, arguing instead that he was “constantly opening doors and constantly looking for another solution”. Without this indispensable dialogue, things will get worse, he warned.

“Our ability to do what we are supposed to do is so crucial, without that – without the IEA being able to tell the world that the nuclear programme in Iran is completely for peaceful use – then there will be this instability.”

There is a tension within western capitals, with some politicians wanting to abandon the talks and take a hard line with a regime they feel is slowly losing grip on power, while others believe that the risk of losing any nuclear non-proliferation agreement with Iran would be too destabilising.

bottom of page