Deputy IAEA director to visit Iran

The visit comes amid tensions over curbs on the IAEA's inspections of nuclear sites in Iran.

Elad Benari ,

IAEA headquarters
IAEA headquarters

The deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will travel to Iran next week amid tension over curbs on the agency's inspections there, i24NEWS reports.

Iran's ambassador to the UN in Vienna, Kazem Gharibabadi, announced the visit on Twitter, adding that "the purpose of the visit is in line with routine safeguards activities in the context of the CSA," referring to one of the agreements under which the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conducts its inspections.

"We are in continuous contact," he added, but there were no pre-planned talks in Tehran.

A European diplomatic source confirmed the visit and said it was principally going to be a visit to the Natanz enrichment facility "to check that inspectors have access to the cascades" of centrifuges used for uranium enrichment.

Asked by AFP to confirm the trip, an IAEA spokesman said: "As part of the Agency's implementation of its safeguards activities in Iran, Deputy Director-General Aparo regularly travels to Iran."

Aparo's visit comes after a temporary agreement covering inspections at Iranian nuclear facilities expired last week.

In February, Iran ended the implementation of the Additional Protocol of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which enabled the IAEA to collect data on some of Tehran's activities,

Iran’s move was part of its scaling back its compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal in response to former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018.

The IAEA struck a three-month deal with Iran that month to have it hold the surveillance images, with Tehran threatening to delete them afterward if no deal had been reached. The deal was extended for another month in mid-May.

After the deal expired, the IAEA said that Iran has not responded to the agency regarding extending their monitoring agreement and called for an "immediate" answer on the issue.

Iran later announced that it will never hand over images from inside of some Iranian nuclear sites to the UN nuclear watchdog due to the fact that the monitoring agreement had expired.