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IAEA, Iran Reach 'temporary Technical Understanding' Over Nuclear Inspections

United Nations (UN) nuclear watchdog on February 22 struck a three-month deal with Iran providing it with enough continued access to verify nuclear activity.


The United Nations (UN) nuclear watchdog on February 22 struck a three-month deal with Iran providing it with enough continued access to verify the nuclear activity in the country, further opening the space for broader political and diplomatic talks between Tehran and the United States. Following the “fruitful discussion” between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi and Iran’s ambassador to the Vienna-based agency, Grossi said that a “temporary technical understanding” has been attained between both sides.

Iran will continue its threat to withdraw this week from the additional protocol, the agreement will be giving inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) authority for inspection. After the talks between IAEA and Iran, Grossi announced that they have attained a “good result” which will mitigate the impact of Iran’s withdrawal from the protocol while giving the UN nuclear watchdog the confidence that it can continue to verify the nuclear activity in the Islamic Republic. 

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IAEA chief also added that the move “salvages the situation” while avoiding the position of the inspectors “flying blind”. Grossi further noted that the agreement, from which any party can withdraw has provided space for broader diplomatic discussions between the US and Iran to go ahead. Iran’s parliament had passed a law in December to partially suspend the nuclear inspections if the US did not lift the crippling sanctions imposed under former US President Donald Trump administration. 

While the law will be going on effect on Tuesday, Grossi said in a news conference, “We agreed that in view of the law, and in particular the provision that establishes limitations, we have reached a temporary bilateral technical understanding whereby the agency is going to continue its necessary verification and monitoring activities for a period of up to three months.”

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IAEA inspectors will have less access

The temporary arrangement between IAEA and Iran will give the inspectors less access than under the 2015 deal on Iran’s nuclear programme, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. But the number of inspectors will not change. Grossi said, “We agreed that we are going to keep this understanding we reached under review constantly so if…we want to suspend it or extend it, this can be done.”

“The hope of the IAEA has been to be able to stabilize a situation which was very unstable," he added. “And I think this technical understanding does it so that other political consultations at other levels can take place, and, most importantly, we can avoid a situation in which we would have been, in practical terms, flying blind.”

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