Iran says talks with IAEA chief in Tehran were 'constructive' - Tasnim

Unclear if deal reached on access to two disputed nuke sites.

An Iranian flag flutters in front of the IAEA headquarters in Vienna (photo credit: REUTERS/ LEONHARD FOEGER)
An Iranian flag flutters in front of the IAEA headquarters in Vienna
Talks with the UN nuclear watchdog's chief were constructive, Iran's top nuclear official Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying on Tuesday, after meeting International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director-general Rafael Grossi, who traveled to Iran to seek access for inspectors to two suspected former atomic sites.
"Our conversation today was constructive. It was agreed that the agency will carry out its independent and professional responsibilities," said Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, according to multiple Iranian news agencies.
"A new chapter of cooperation between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency will start."  
The IAEA had not yet issued a statement by Tuesday following the visit.
The Monday visit was the director-general’s first to the country since he took office last December.
Just prior to the visit, the IAEA said that, "During his discussions in Tehran, Director Grossi will address the cooperation of Iran with the IAEA, and in particular Iran’s provision of access to the Agency’s inspectors to requested locations.
“I have decided to come personally to Tehran so that I can reinforce the importance of cooperation and the full implementation of all safeguards, commitments and obligations with the IAEA,” Grossi said.
“My objective is that my meetings in Tehran will lead to concrete progress in addressing the outstanding questions that the agency has related to safeguards in Iran and, in particular, to resolve the issue of access,” he said, adding that “I also hope to establish a fruitful and cooperative channel of direct dialogue with the Iranian government which will be valuable now and in the future.”    
In June, the IAEA Board of Governors issued the first condemnation of Iran in almost a decade for lack of compliance both in granting access to two disputed nuclear sites and in clearing up the origin of illicit nuclear material found by inspectors at the Turquzabad site.
The Board of Governors’ vote came at Grossi's request, with the current IAEA chief being more willing to publicly push around the Islamic Republic than his predecessor, Yukiya Amano.
Israeli intelligence officials believe that one reason Grossi is more willing to pressure the ayatollahs is that he was not part of forming the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, whereas Amano viewed the deal as a sacrosanct piece of his legacy.
At the same time, it is unclear whether Grossi can bring more pressure to bear on Tehran than a public scolding, since the UN Security Council recently rejected US attempts to extend an arms embargo on Iran and is expected to reject its attempts to snap back global sanctions.
Alternatively, Iran may be more flexible with granting access to the disputed sites now that it has achieved victories at the Security Council and potentially also had several additional months to clean up or remove nuclear items it does not want the IAEA to see.
Just prior to the visit, AEOI spokesperson Behrouz Kamalvandi said the IAEA wanted access to two nuclear sites, one in Tehran and the other near the central Isfahan province.
“We have never said we will not grant access to the agency, but this will happen if such claims end once and for all,” he said, referring to claims that Iran was hiding its nuclear activities.
This seemed to indicate Iran might grant access for guarantees about being left alone in the future from any nuclear archive related evidence obtained by the Mossad during a raid in 2018.