The head of the UN nuclear watchdog has said that he was “extremely concerned” about Iran’s lack of cooperation regarding its nuclear activity as EU envoy Enrique Mora is set to visit Tehran to save the stalled nuclear deal talks.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is “trying to clarify a number of still open matters with Iran”, agency head Rafael Grossi told a European Parliament committee on Tuesday.
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“I am referring to the fact that we, in the last few months, were able to identify traces of enriched uranium in places that had never been declared by Iran as places where any activity was taking place,” he said.
“The situation does not look very good. Iran, for the time being, has not been forthcoming in the kind of information we need from them … We are extremely concerned about this,” he said.
Talks between world powers and Iran have stalled since mid-March as negotiators seek to return to the 2015 landmark accord that curtailed Tehran’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.
Negotiations have stalled chiefly over Tehran’s insistence that Washington removes the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), its elite security force, from the US Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) List.
EU diplomat Mora, who chairs the negotiations, will visit Tehran this week, Iran announced on Monday, as the United States – which is seeking to come back to the deal it unilaterally left in 2018 – voiced hope for progress.
Iran has boosted its stockpile of highly enriched uranium since former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018, which had capped Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
Western officials have largely lost hope that the deal can be resurrected, sources familiar with the matter said, forcing them to weigh how to limit Iran’s atomic programme even as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has divided the big powers.
The IAEA and Iran announced in March that they had agreed on an approach for resolving issues crucial to reviving the 2015 nuclear accord.
At the time, Grossi said the UN agency and Iran had “decided to try a practical, pragmatic approach” to overcome “a number of important matters”.
Some documents are to be exchanged between the two sides by May 22.
The aim is to settle outstanding questions that the IAEA has about the past presence of nuclear material at undeclared sites in Iran.
Iran “should be at the top of our preoccupations in spite of the drama that is unfolding in Ukraine,” Grossi said on Tuesday, referring to Russia’s invasion of its neighbour.
He said talks to revive the nuclear deal were “at a sort of pause” but the Vienna-based IAEA was “of course still hopeful that some agreement is going to be reached within a reasonable timeframe”.
“Although we have to recognise that the window of opportunity could be closed anytime,” he added.