Iran has agreed to sit down with international technical experts investigating the discovery of uranium particles at three previously undeclared nuclear sites in the country, the head of the U.N. atomic watchdog said Thursday. This comes after months of frustration over Tehran’s lack of a credible explanation and threats to limit access to inspectors.
The agreement came as three of the remaining signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, France, Germany and Britain, cancelled an idea of a resolution criticizing Iran for its decision to limit access to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi told reporters in Vienna it was not up to him to say whether Iran’s move to hold talks with his technical experts was linked to the decision of the so-called E3 group, but suggested it was difficult to separate the political side of Iran’s nuclear program from the technical side.
“It is obvious for everybody that all these matters need to have some resolution, and when it comes to Iran – and I’m not saying anything that Iran itself hasn’t said – everything is interconnected, of course,” he said.
“These are different parts of a single whole.”
The E3 had floated the idea of the resolution after Iran began restricting international inspections last week. After a last-minute trip to Tehran by Grossi, however, some access was maintained.
It was not immediately clear why the E3 decided to drop the idea of the resolution, but it was widely reported that Russia and China, the other members of the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA,) were against the idea because it could antagonize Iran further.
Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, Kazem Gharibabadi, tweeted after the decision that “wisdom prevails” and that the E3 had prevented unnecessary tension.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry applauded the move.
“Today’s development can maintain the path of diplomacy opened by Iran and the IAEA, and pave the way for full implementation of commitments by all parties to the nuclear deal,” spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.
The nuclear deal promised Iran economic incentives in return for the curbs on its nuclear program. President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal unilaterally in 2018, saying it needed to be renegotiated.
On the website of Iran’s Foreign Ministry, President Hassan Rouhani said that “if the new US administration wants to make up for the mistakes of the previous administration, we have left the path clear for them,” suggesting that Washington not only lifts the sanctions, re-instated by the Trump administration in 2018, but eventually pay “compensation for damages” which he estimates at “more than 200 billion dollars.”
But if Washington wants to go back to the negotiating table at all, it is unlikely that they will give in to this demand.