IAEA chief Grossi: Death of Iran’s president and FM has delayed nuclear talks

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General, Rafael Grossi, addresses the media after arriving at the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat, Austria, Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Heinz-Peter Bader)
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General, Rafael Grossi, addresses the media after arriving at the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat, Austria, Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Heinz-Peter Bader)

The deaths of Iran’s president and foreign minister in a helicopter crash have caused a pause in the UN nuclear watchdog’s talks with Tehran over improving cooperation with the agency, the watchdog’s chief Rafael Grossi tells Reuters.

“They are in a mourning period which I need to respect,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Grossi says in Helsinki, where he spoke at a nuclear conference.

“But once this is over, we are going to be engaging again,” he says, describing it as a “temporary interruption that I hope will be over in a matter of days.”

Grossi says the IAEA is planning to continue technical discussions with Iran but they had not yet taken place due to the helicopter crash that killed President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

The IAEA faces a range of challenges in Iran, from Tehran’s recent barring of many of the most experienced uranium-enrichment experts on its inspection team to Iran’s continued failure to explain uranium traces found at undeclared sites despite a years-long IAEA investigation.

The IAEA has been trying to expand its oversight of Iran’s atomic activities while the country’s uranium-enrichment program continues to advance. Iran is enriching uranium to up to 60% purity, close to the 90% of weapons-grade, which no other country has done without developing nuclear weapons.

Tehran says its aims are entirely peaceful.

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