UN atomic chief briefs Nikki Haley on Iran deal
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UN atomic chief briefs Nikki Haley on Iran deal

Meeting between US envoy to UN and Yukiya Amano comes amid mounting threats by American and Iranian leaders to scrap agreement

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 28, 2017, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing: 'Advancing US Interests at the United Nations'. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 28, 2017, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing: 'Advancing US Interests at the United Nations'. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

VIENNA — The head of the UN’s atomic watchdog met US Ambassador the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday to brief her on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, as concerns grow about the accord’s future.

Reports by the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency have shown Iran to be in compliance with its landmark agreement with six major powers.

The deal saw Iran shrink its atomic activities and submit to closer IAEA inspections in order to make any dash to make a nuclear bomb extremely difficult.

Most UN and Western sanctions on Iran were lifted in return, but others related to non-nuclear issues have remained in place or been ratcheted up.

With US President Donald Trump slamming the “terrible” 2015 deal, tensions have risen between the two long-time foes, with both accusing each other of not adhering to the “spirit” of the accord.

In this photo released by official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani, right, and Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Yukiya Amano shake hands for media at the start of their meeting at the Presidency office in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, December 18, 2016. (Iranian Presidency Office/AP)
In this photo released by official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani, right, and Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Yukiya Amano shake hands for media at the start of their meeting at the Presidency office in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, December 18, 2016. (Iranian Presidency Office/AP)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said last week that Iran could walk away within hours, accusing Washington of “constant and repetitive breaking of its promises” under the deal.

Haley responded that the new sanctions are related to Iran’s support for “worldwide terrorism” and other behavior, and that Iran cannot “use the nuclear deal to hold the world hostage.”

Trump is due to certify to Congress in October whether Iran is sticking to the deal. In July he told the Wall Street Journal he “would be surprised if they were in compliance.”

Haley made no comment to reporters on Wednesday as she arrived for her talks with IAEA chief Yukiya Amano.

The Washington Post on Tuesday quoted her as saying her talks were to answer US questions about the watchdog’s inspections and monitoring.

“We have no decision made” about whether to scrap the deal, Haley was quoted as saying. “What we are doing is trying to find out as much information as we can.”

“The Trump administration needs a wake-up call on the costs of sabotaging the nuclear deal with Iran,” Arms Control Association analyst Kelsey Davenport told AFP.

“Hopefully visiting the IAEA will allay concerns about monitoring the agreement and demonstrate to Haley that the deal put Iran’s nuclear program under a microscope and keeping it there is the best way to guard against any illicit nuclear activity,” Davenport said.

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