The director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Saturday commended a “more cooperative relationship” with Iran, after the UN nuclear watchdog and Tehran agreed on a three-month plan to resolve stalled issues.
“We are moving into a more cooperative relationship, things are moving toward a better atmosphere,” Rafael Grossi told a press conference at the Vienna International Airport following his return from Tehran.
The joint plan agreed upon after talks with Mohammad Eslami, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), on Saturday clears the way for a possible deal to revive the 2015 nuclear accord.
Delegates are trying to settle the final thorny issues within days to bring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) back to life after eleven months of talks in Vienna involving Iran, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China directly, and the United States indirectly.
Grossi suggested the presentation of his conclusion would happen before “reimplementation day” – the day by which the bulk of US sanctions-lifting and Iranian implementation of nuclear restrictions will have happened under any future agreement – even though they are officially unrelated.
One unresolved issue has been Iran’s demand for the closure of the IAEA’s investigation into uranium particles the agency says it found at three old sites.
“It is obvious that, for Iran, it is important to try to have the processes, I wouldn’t say running in absolute synchronicity, but there is a sort of a loose relationship,” he said, when asked if the three-month timeframe was based on the timing of “reimplementation day”, Reuters reported.
The IAEA chief said he had held “very good talks” with Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.
Grossi said he “thinks the Iranian foreign minister intends” to go to Vienna “for conclusion of the talks”.
Speaking to Grossi in Tehran, the top Iranian diplomat stressed the importance of improving cooperation with the UN nuclear agency on issues beyond supervision and inspection, including the IAEA’s support for Iran’s peaceful nuclear industry.
Amir-Abdollahian also harbored hope that the IAEA chief’s visit to Tehran would further promote mutual confidence and cooperation.
“Iran has made a commitment to work with the IAEA,” Grossi said of the proceedings of his visit to the Iranian capital.
At the end of the IAEA chief’s visit to Tehran, Eslami and Grossi issued a joint statement on the importance of accelerating and strengthening their cooperation and dialogue in order to solve the remaining issues between the two sides, Press TV wrote.
According to the statement, the AEOI will provide to the IAEA, no later than March 20, 2022, written explanations, including related supporting documents to the questions raised by the agency, which have not been addressed by Iran on the issues related to three locations where the IAEA claimed it had found particles of processed uranium.
“We are continuing with the process of clarifying issues related to [some] locations in Iran,” the IAEA chief likewise noted with respect to the statement, adding, “By June, we are trying to offer a conclusion on Iran’s dossier.”
However, he said, “There are no pre-defined outcomes in the investigation of the open issues in Iran.”
“The conclusion can be final, or partial, but I hope everything will go well,” he observed.