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Iran calls for depolitisation of IAEA after France urges it to act

Governors meeting at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna
FILE PHOTO: A cleaning staff works before a news conference attended by IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi during an IAEA Board of Governors meeting in Vienna, Austria, September 13, 2021. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

November 19, 2021

(Reuters) – Iran called on Friday for the depoliticisation of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, after France had urged the organisation to “send a strong message to Tehran” over disputed nuclear activities and a lack of cooperation.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-nation governing board is due to begin meeting on Nov. 24 in Vienna, five days before talks are due to resume on reviving Iran’s nuclear deal with global powers.

Complaints from the U.N. body that Iran has not fully cooperated with monitors could make it more difficult to revive the agreement, under which Iran accepted curbs on its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

“As a responsible member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has always emphasised that the IAEA’s reputation as a technical and specialised body of the United Nations must be free of any political conduct,” said an Iranian Foreign Ministry statement in a twitter feed.

French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre had said on Thursday that the watchdog’s governing board should act, after agency reports highlighted issues over Tehran’s nuclear programme. Western nations say they fear it has military aims while Tehran insists it is purely peaceful.

According to IAEA reports on Wednesday, Iran had still not granted IAEA inspectors access it promised two months ago to re-install monitoring cameras at a workshop that was the site of apparent sabotage in June.

Legendre said Iran “must return without delay to fulfilling all its commitments and obligations to the IAEA, resume cooperation with the agency and return to full implementation” of the 2015 nuclear deal.

She did not clarify what she meant by a strong message. Diplomats have said it is unlikely Western powers would take action against Iran before the negotiations on reviving the nuclear accord resume.

Western powers scrapped plans in September for an IAEA board resolution rebuking Iran, after Tehran agreed to prolong monitoring of some nuclear activities and invited IAEA chief Rafael Grossi to Tehran for talks. Grossi is again due in Tehran ahead of the IAEA board meeting.

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