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Iran To Reduce Cooperation With IAEA Inspectors Next Week


Saeed Khatibzadeh, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, has claimed that the move does not mean all inspections by the IAEA will end.(file photo)

The International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) has confirmed that Iran has told it that the country plans to reduce its cooperation with the UN atomic watchdog's inspectors as of February 23.

The Vienna-based agency said on February 16 that Tehran had informed it the previous day that it would stop implementing "voluntary transparency measures" under the 2015 nuclear agreement with major powers, including the so-called Additional Protocol, which allows IAEA inspectors to visit undeclared sites in Iran at short notice.

IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi "has offered to travel to Iran in order to find a mutually agreeable solution for the agency to continue essential verification work," a spokesperson said in Vienna.

Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Kazem Gharibabadi, announced on February 15 that Tehran had informed the UN agency about its plan.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement in 2018 and reimposed punishing sanctions against Iran.

In response, Tehran has gradually breached parts of the pact, saying it was no longer bound by it.

"All these steps are reversible if the other party changes its path and honors its obligations," Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on February 15, alluding to the United States.

The new U.S. administration of President Joe Biden has expressed a willingness to return to the agreement but has insisted that Iran move to full compliance with the deal first. Tehran has rejected any preconditions and called for the immediate lifting of sanctions.

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, who said last week that Doha was in consultations to help salvage the agreement, met in Tehran with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on February 15.

The minister also held talks with President Hassan Rohani and delivered a message from the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

"We welcome efforts by friendly countries like Qatar," Khatibzadeh said, confirming that there have been consultations between Tehran and Doha at various levels.

Under the 2015 nuclear accord -- reached by Iran, the United States, China, Russia, Germany, France, and Britain -- Iran agreed to curbs on its uranium-enrichment program in return for the lifting of sanctions. Iran has always denied pursuing nuclear weapons, saying its nuclear program is strictly for civilian purposes.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, and dpa
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