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UN nuclear agency chief due in Tehran Sunday as West loses patience with Iran

Rafael Grossi will meet Iranian VP and nuclear chief, as he tries to defuse tensions over Tehran’s lack of cooperation

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Mariano Grossi addresses the media during a news conference regarding the agency's monitoring of Iran's nuclear energy program at the International Center in Vienna, Austria, on Monday, June 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Lisa Leutner)
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Mariano Grossi addresses the media during a news conference regarding the agency's monitoring of Iran's nuclear energy program at the International Center in Vienna, Austria, on Monday, June 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Lisa Leutner)

TEHRAN — Iran said that the head of the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) is arriving in the country for talks with Iranian officials.

Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, said in a tweet that Rafael Grossi is arriving on Saturday, and will travel to Tehran during the afternoon. Grossi is scheduled to meet Iran’s vice president and head of the country’s atomic organization, Mohammad Eslami, on Sunday.

It will be Grossi’s first visit to the country since new Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi took office. Gharibabadi said that the two sides will issue a joint statement after the meeting.

Talks between Iran and world powers, over limiting Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, have been idle since June. Raisi took office in August.

Earlier this month, in a report, the IAEA said that Iran had quadrupled its stockpile of 60-percent enriched uranium since May. It also said that verification and monitoring activities have been “seriously undermined” since February, after Iran refused to let inspectors access IAEA monitoring equipment.

In response, Iran said that its nuclear activities had been “carried out in the framework of Iran’s nuclear rights and under nonproliferation treaty.”

The two major issues being negotiated are the rollback of American sanctions imposed by former United States president Donald Trump’s administration after it withdrew from the deal, and the return of Iran to compliance with restrictions imposed on its nuclear program.

In this image made from an April 17, 2021 video released by the state-run TV station Islamic Republic Iran Broadcasting, various centrifuge machines line the hall damaged on Sunday, April 11, 2021, at the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility, some 200 miles south of the capital Tehran. (IRIB via AP, File)

Major powers are losing patience, more than two months after the suspension of negotiations that had begun in April in Vienna, under the aegis of the European Union, to try to resurrect the international agreement of 2015.

The US is close to abandoning its efforts, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned on Wednesday.

The Islamic Republic has been gradually freeing itself from its nuclear obligations since 2019, in response to Donald Trump’s reinstatement of US sanctions.

Israel has repeatedly warned that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu openly opposed the 2015 deal, which it said would pave the way to an Iranian nuclear arsenal, and publicly urged US President Joe Biden to reenter the deal.

Meeting with Biden at the White House last month, current Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned of the “nightmare” of a radical Islamic regime attaining nuclear weapons, and Biden publicly vowed that the US would “never” allow Iran to attain the bomb.

Israel has “greatly accelerated” preparations for action against Iran’s nuclear program, military chief Aviv Kohavi said in an interview published Monday.

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