IAEA Chief Hopes to Set New Tone With Tehran

IAEA Chief Hopes to Set New Tone With Tehran
IAEA Chief Hopes to Set New Tone With Tehran

The new head of the UN nuclear agency hopes he can set a new tone with the Islamic Republic in his upcoming meetings with Iranian officials. 
Rafael Grossi, a 58-year-old career diplomat from Argentina, took over as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday. Arguably the biggest challenge he and his agency face is verifying Iran’s nuclear deal with major powers.
Grossi, a veteran of nuclear diplomacy who worked as a senior IAEA official during 2010-13, has said he already knows some of the main decision-makers in Iran, but he has yet to meet senior Iranian officials since taking office.
His first face-to-face talks are expected to start this week on the sidelines of a meeting in Vienna, Austria, of parties to Iran’s landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Iran’s delegation is usually headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi.
“I’m the new kid on the block in this relationship. They’ve been there, now they get a new DG, so we have to sit down together, start talking and take it from there,” he said in an interview with Reuters.
“Let me start my conversation with Iran. I don’t think it would be appropriate, and it would be unfair, to pronounce myself about their attitudes before I sit down with them.”
Grossi has said he will be “firm but fair” on inspections generally, including in Iran, without spelling out what that means. 
He told Reuters he is satisfied with the work IAEA’s inspections team has been doing.
While he has said he plans to communicate more actively than his late predecessor Yukiya Amano, he said that, like Amano, he would not voice an opinion on the state of the nuclear deal, which has been eroding as Iran exceeds the limits it imposes on its nuclear activities one by one, in response to the US pullout from the accord last year and the reimposition of sanctions on Iran, and Europe’s failure to adopt effective measures to ensure Tehran’s financial interests. 
Instead, the IAEA will stick to providing technical updates on Iran’s nuclear activities.



Not the Best Idea 

On the claim that uranium particles have been found in an undeclared site in Tehran, Grossi said setting deadlines for Iran to explain the issue could be “counterproductive”, hoping fresh dialogue will resolve the months-long standoff.
Over the past few weeks, the UN nuclear watchdog has been seeking a “satisfactory” explanation for the uranium traces allegedly found by IAEA inspectors at the site.
In September, the IAEA’s acting chief told Iran that “time is of the essence” for Iran to cooperate with the agency on the issue.
“To put deadlines might not be the best idea,” Grossi told Reuters when asked how long he was willing to give Iran to provide an explanation that holds water on the particles of uranium that were purportedly processed but not enriched.
“This would for me mean that we would be in a very ... antagonistic relationship where basically one side would be resisting and then I as DG would need to be putting deadlines,” he said, adding that “we need to work together ... Time is always of the essence.”

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