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Iran Voices Hope For 'Constructive' Visit By Chief Of UN's Atomic Agency


Rafael Grossi, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (file photo)

The chief of the UN's atomic agency has arrived in Tehran for meetings with Iranian officials ahead of talks next week in Vienna aimed at reviving a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Rafael Grossi, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was expected to hold talks on November 23 with Mohammad Eslami, the chief of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization who is also one of Iran's vice presidents.

Grossi is also set to meet with Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

Addressing reporters ahead of Grossi's arrival on November 22, Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Tehran hoped that his visit "will be as constructive as the previous ones."

Grossi last visited Tehran in September, when he obtained Iran's approval for international access to monitoring equipment at Iranian nuclear facilities.

The 2015 deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was intended to curtail Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

The United States withdrew from the deal in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, and Tehran has since consistently stepped up activity in its nuclear program, including expanding its stockpile of enriched uranium.

Trump's successor, Joe Biden, has expressed interest in rejoining the pact if Iran returns to full compliance.

However, indirect negotiations between the deal's signatories that started in April in Vienna were put on hold in June after the Islamic republic elected hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi as president.

On November 19, the IAEA said Tehran had again increased its stockpile of highly enriched uranium, several times above the limit outlined in the 2015 agreement.

Grossi's visit comes ahead of talks with world powers in Vienna on November 29 -- the first since Raisi's election.

"We will leave for Vienna with a full team and a serious will to lift the sanctions," Khatibzadeh said. "The other parties should also try to come to Vienna to reach a practical and comprehensive agreement."

The remaining signatories to the 2015 deal -- Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia -- will join the talks while the United States will participate indirectly.

With reporting by AFP