Iran's flag flies outside the Vienna headquarters of the IAEA. FILE PHOTO

Iran's flag flies outside the Vienna headquarters of the IAEA. FILE PHOTO

Iran Says IAEA Should Be 'Depoliticized' After France Urges It To Act


Iran has called for the “depoliticization” of the UN nuclear watchdog, after France had urged to "send a strong message to Tehran" over a lack of cooperation.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) 35-nation governing board is due to begin meeting on November 24 in Vienna, five days before talks are due to resume on reviving Iran's nuclear deal with global powers.

The IAEA has issued critical reports saying Tehran has not fully cooperated with its monitors, which could make it more difficult to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement known as JCPOA, under which Iran accepted curbs on its nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

"As a responsible member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has always emphasized that the IAEA's reputation as a technical and specialized body of the United Nations must be free of any political conduct," said an Iranian Foreign Ministry statement in a twitter feed.

Iran has in the past made similar statements when it has felt a danger of being criticized or censured for lack of cooperation with the UN watchdog.

French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre had said on Thursday that the watchdog's governing board should act, after agency reports highlighted issues over Tehran's nuclear program. Western nations say they fear it has military aims while Tehran insists it is purely peaceful.

According to IAEA reports on Wednesday, Iran had still not granted IAEA inspectors access it promised two months ago to re-install monitoring cameras at a workshop that was the site of apparent sabotage in June.

Legendre said Iran "must return without delay to fulfilling all its commitments and obligations to the IAEA, resume cooperation with the agency and return to full implementation" of the 2015 nuclear deal.

She did not clarify what she meant by a strong message. Diplomats have said it is unlikely Western powers would take action against Iran before the negotiations on reviving the nuclear accord resume.

Talks should resume between Iran and world powers in Vienna November 29.

Western powers scrapped plans in September for an IAEA board resolution rebuking Iran, after Tehran agreed to prolong monitoring of some nuclear activities and invited IAEA chief Rafael Grossi to Tehran for talks. Grossi is again due in Tehran ahead of the IAEA board meeting.

With reporting by Reuters

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