IAEA chief says lack of contact with Iran ‘astonishing’

The IAEA is tasked with monitoring Iranian compliance with the Iran deal.

 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi arrives for the beginning of an IAEA board of governors meeting in Vienna, Austria, September 13, 2021. (photo credit: REUTERS/LEONHARD FOEGER)
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi arrives for the beginning of an IAEA board of governors meeting in Vienna, Austria, September 13, 2021.
(photo credit: REUTERS/LEONHARD FOEGER)

There is an “astonishing” lack of contact between Iran’s new government and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear watchdog’s director-general Rafael Grossi told reporters in Vienna on Friday.

“They [Iran] continue to say that they are seeing me soon, but it’s not done yet and until that is done, we will have some doubts,” Grossi said.

He had hoped to go before the IAEA board meeting that starts on November 22 and prior to the resumption of talks on reviving the Iran deal slated for November 29.

The IAEA is tasked with monitoring Iranian compliance with the Iran deal, otherwise known as the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, designed to prevent Iran from producing a nuclear weapon.

Former US president Donald Trump exited the deal, but President Joe Biden would like to restore it. The deal was originally signed between Tehran and the six world powers: the US, Russia, China, France, Germany and Great Britain.

Iranian flag flies in front of the UN office building, housing IAEA headquarters, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2021. (credit: LISI NIESNER/ REUTERS)Iranian flag flies in front of the UN office building, housing IAEA headquarters, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2021. (credit: LISI NIESNER/ REUTERS)

Iran in the last years has halted its compliance with the deal and as of the start of this month, has increased its stockpile of 60% enriched uranium to 25 kilograms.

Grossi visited Iran in September, to discuss ways to ensure IAEA verification and met with Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) head Mohammad Eslami.

On Friday, Grossi downplayed the significance of that meeting as he deplored the lack of contact between the IAEA and the new Iranian government led by President Ebrahim Raisi, who was elected in June and sworn into office in August.

“I have not had any contact with this government, apart from the technical conversations which were cordial with Mr. Eslami on a couple of occasions. But I have not had any with a government that has been there for more than five months.

“This is astonishing. I am saying it openly because I am saying it to them, I think we should have had this contact much earlier,” Grossi said.

He added that there “is a long list of things we need to discuss.”

Reuters contributed to this report.