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IAEA chief heads to Iran as regime seeks to scrap probe of its undeclared nuke sites

Grossi vows UN watchdog will ‘never abandon’ effort to clarify the presence of nuclear material at several undeclared sites — an Iranian condition for reviving the 2015 deal

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi during the COP26 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, November 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi during the COP26 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, November 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

VIENNA, Austria — The head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, will travel to Iran on Saturday “for meetings with senior Iranian officials,” the IAEA said Thursday.

IAEA director general Rafael Grossi will hold a press conference on his return to Vienna, an agency spokesman said.

The announcement comes a day after Grossi vowed that the IAEA would “never abandon” its attempts to get Iran to clarify the previous presence of nuclear material at several undeclared sites there.

Iran has said the closure of the probe is necessary in order to clinch a deal to revive the 2015 deal with world powers on its nuclear program.

The talks on the deal taking place in Vienna are widely seen as being at a crunch point, with the next few days key to their success or failure.

Diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran and Russia restarted the talks in late November to revive the 2015 accord, also known as the JCPOA or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Rafael Mariano Grossi, right, speaks with deputy head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Behrouz Kamalvandi upon his arrival at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport, Iran, Nov. 22, 2021. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP)

The US has been taking part in the talks indirectly.

The IAEA has been pressing Tehran for several years for explanations regarding indications that nuclear material was previously present at four locations in Iran.

While much of the activity concerned is thought to date back to the early 2000s, sources say that one of the sites, in the Turquzabad district of Tehran, may have been used for storing uranium as late as the end of 2018.

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