ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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Iran: UN atomic watchdog chief to visit in ‘coming days’

Tehran announces trip by Rafael Grossi following revelation that IAEA inspectors found uranium enriched to 84% purity, the closest Iran has come to weapons-grade

Rafael Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, speaks to journalists after the IAEA's board of governors meeting at the agency's headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on November 16, 2022. (Joe Klamar/AFP)
Rafael Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, speaks to journalists after the IAEA's board of governors meeting at the agency's headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on November 16, 2022. (Joe Klamar/AFP)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran said Monday the head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, Rafael Grossi, will visit Tehran “in the coming days,” amid a dispute over uranium enrichment levels in the Islamic Republic.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said earlier this month it was in discussions with Tehran after Bloomberg News reported that the watchdog’s inspectors in Iran had found uranium enriched to 84 percent purity.

Following the revelation, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency warned that Iran could enrich uranium to weapons-grade within weeks, but added the United States does not believe Iranian leaders have yet decided to do so.

Iran has denied enriching uranium to such a level, insisting it had not made any attempt to enrich beyond 60%, well past the 3.67% threshold set out in a landmark agreement reached with world powers in 2015.

On Monday, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said Grossi would travel to Iran “in the coming days” following an official invitation from its director, Mohammad Eslami.

“In recent days, we have had constructive and promising discussions” with the IAEA delegation that was already in Iran to clear up any doubts about its nuclear program, AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said.

“It is hoped that this trip will form the basis for greater cooperation and a clearer horizon between Iran and the IAEA,” he added.

Iran’s domestically built centrifuges are displayed in an exhibition of the country’s nuclear achievements, in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, February 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

The latest visit by the IAEA inspectors comes amid deadlock in negotiations on reviving the 2015 deal that promised Iran relief from crippling economic sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear activities.

The restrictions were intended to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability — an ambition it has always denied.

The United States unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions, prompting Iran to suspend the implementation of its own commitments under the accord known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

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