United Nations nuclear watchdog chief meets with Iranian officials, presses for expanded access

U.N. officials are meeting with Iranian leaders Tuesday to discuss the ongoing nuclear issue

Updated: November 23, 2021 - 7:58am

The head of the U.N.'s atomic watchdog atomic watchdog met on Tuesday with Iranian officials to press the country for expanded access ahead of diplomatic discussions about the Iranian nuclear deal set to resume.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency face a challenge as they continue to be denied access to surveillance footage from Iran's nuclear facilities. Furthermore, the agency has a limited understanding and ability to monitor Iran's rapidly growing uranium stockpile, which the country is enriching at up to 60% purity. 

The Iranian regime maintains that its program is peaceful, the global community is skeptical, and neighboring Israel has repeatedly cautioned against allowing Tehran to continue advancing its nuclear aspirations. 

The United States and five other countries reached a deal in 2015 with Iran in which the country agreed to curb its nuclear development program in exchange for the easing of sanctions. President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal over concerns Iran was not complying with the terms.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has described Iran's program as in a "very advanced stage," though he declined at the time to provide details. Ahead of a wider meeting of the IAEA member states, Bennett says he expects "disagreement with our greatest of friends," adding that no matter what, "Israel is not bound by it (the Iran nuclear deal)."

President Joe Biden and his administration have been attempting to re-enter the nuclear deal since assuming office last January, but have made little progress and have begun to warn that time is now running out.

Rafael Mariano Gross of the IAEA says he hopes during Tuesday's meeting to "address outstanding questions" with Iranian officials.

"I hope to establish a fruitful and cooperative channel of direct dialogue so the (IAEA) can resume essential verification activities in the country," he tweeted.

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