IAEA chief Grossi visits Iran as US raises pressure in nuclear spat

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International Atomic Energy Agency

UN nuclear chief Rafael Grossi is scheduled to hold high-level meetings in Tehran on Monday in an attempt to make progress on one of the issues that have led to growing tensions between Iran and the United States.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Grossi said ahead of the trip that he would push for access to two sites where the IAEA has indications of past nuclear activities.

The IAEA started asking questions about the locations one year ago but has not received satisfactory answers, and its nuclear inspectors have not been allowed to visit them.

The issue is not directly related to Iran’s breaking of key provisions set by its 2015 nuclear deal with major powers, which had been designed to limit the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme and prevent it from developing nuclear weapons.

However, the denial of access and the ramping up of nuclear activities have both been cited by the United States as evidence that Tehran cannot be trusted.

Iran started ignoring limits set by the 2015 deal after the US administration of President Donald Trump withdrew from pact. Last week, Washington formally requested to reinstate UN sanctions on Iran, in a move that could ultimately push Tehran to abandon the nuclear deal completely.

An explosion at the main uranium facility in July, which Tehran has assessed as sabotage, has also added to international concerns that tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme could escalate.

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