IAEA chief in Iran for talks before showdown with West

IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi gestures during an interview with Reuters at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria, December 16, 2020. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi is set for talks in Iran on Sunday that may ease a standoff between Tehran and the West just as it threatens to escalate and scupper negotiations on reviving the Iran nuclear deal.

Grossi arrived in Tehran overnight, Iranian state media said, ahead of next week’s meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The IAEA and Iran’s envoy to the agency said he would meet the new head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Mohammad Eslami.

Grossi is expected to hold a news conference at Vienna airport around 8:30 p.m. (1830 GMT) after returning later on Sunday, the IAEA said.

Iran’s state-run Press TV channel reported that the IAEA would have no access to footage captured by surveillance cameras at Iranian nuclear sites.

It said an “informed source rejects reports suggesting that Iran may reconsider [its] decision on IAEA access restrictions,” according to Reuters.

The IAEA informed member states this week that there had been no progress on two central issues: explaining uranium traces found at several old, undeclared sites and getting urgent access to some monitoring equipment so the agency can continue to keep track of parts of Iran’s nuclear programme as provided for by the 2015 deal.

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