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IAEA chief says ‘space narrowing’ to extend deal on Iran nuclear inspections

VIENNA — The UN nuclear watchdog’s head says it is “becoming increasingly difficult” to extend a temporary inspections arrangement with Iran, as Tehran and world powers try to salvage a nuclear deal.

In February, Tehran suspended some IAEA inspections, leading the agency to strike a temporary three-month deal allowing it to continue its activities despite the reduced level of access.

“I can see this space narrowing down,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi tells journalists in Vienna at the beginning of the quarterly meeting of the IAEA’s board of governors.

In late May the ad hoc arrangement was extended until June 24, with Grossi describing the remaining time as “very short.”

Referring to negotiations underway in central Vienna between world powers and Tehran on the possible revival of the international 2015 deal on Iran’s nuclear program, Grossi says he hopes that by “wider general agreement that’s being worked on downtown or by some other means, we are not going to see our… inspection capacities curtailed any more.”

“We cannot limit and continue to curtail the ability of the inspectors to inspect and at the same time pretend that there is trust,” he says.

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