Nov 24, 2021 - World

UN nuclear chief leaves Iran empty-handed ahead of Vienna talks

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi (left) meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. Photo: Xinhua via Getty

A visit to Tehran by the head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog ahead of renewed nuclear talks in Vienna ended without any agreement on resuming inspections in key nuclear sites in Iran.

Driving the news: At a press conference in Vienna on Wednesday, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general Raphael Grossi said the talks had “proved inconclusive” and warned, “We are getting closer to the point where I can’t promise that we have continuity of knowledge about Iran’s nuclear program.”

  • The Iranians delayed the visit until the day before the IAEA board convenes to discuss Iran’s violations and several days before the Vienna talks resume.
  • Grossi met with Iran’s foreign minister and the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization and was seeking an agreement to reinstate several verification measures and reinstall cameras at the Karaj centrifuge production facility. Grossi said the Iranians rejected those requests.

What’s next: Iranian negotiators will sit down once again on Nov. 29 with representatives of Russia, China, France, Germany, the U.K. and the EU.

  • U.S. Iran envoy Rob Malley and his team will be in Vienna but will communicate with the Iranians indirectly through European mediators.
  • U.S. officials say they’re very skeptical about the prospects of progress in the upcoming round of talks and expect Iran to arrive with maximalist positions. The talks may only last a day or two, after which the diplomats will return to their capitals for further consultations.
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