The head of the UN nuclear watchdog said Tuesday Iran was delaying information about old undeclared nuclear sites, leading to a possible clash in a June meeting.
Iran and the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had agreed a three-month plan on March 5 for a series of exchanges for Iran to clarify remaining questions about uranium particles found in old sites kept secret from the IAEA. Following that process, the IAEA chief Rafael Grossi was supposed "to report his conclusion by the June 2022 (IAEA) Board of Governors" meeting, which begins on June 6.
However, Western diplomats have said there is little sign that Tehran has given satisfactory answers to the watchdog.
Talks to revive Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers have stalled since March, chiefly over Tehran's insistence that Washington remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), from the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list.
While not technically part of the nuclear deal, one issue causing tension and distrust between Tehran and the West had been Iran's demand for the closure of the International Atomic Energy Agency's investigation into uranium particles found at three apparently old but undeclared sites.
Those sites suggest that Iran had nuclear material there that it did not declare to the agency.
Speaking to the EU parliament, Grossi said he remained extremely concerned by the situation and had told Iran that he found it difficult to imagine that the nuclear deal could be finalized if the IAEA had serious doubts about things that it should have known about.
"I am not trying to pass an alarmist message that we are at a dead end, but the situation does not look very good. Iran has not been forthcoming in the type of information we need from them," Grossi told European Parliament committees via webstream.
It has been four years since Israel revealed it had stolen old nuclear archives from a warehouse near Tehran, renewing accusations that Iran was secretly developing plans to build nuclear weapons. The IAEA has been long trying to get a full explanation from Tehran after it was allowed an inspection of the sites and traces of radioactive material was found.
The EU's Iran nuclear talks coordinator Enrique Mora arrives in Tehran on Tuesday in what he has described as the last bullet to save the diplomatic process to revie the 2015 nuclear deal, which also includes Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany.
The Iranian government still says it stands on its “red lines” and demands lifting of US sanctions not directly related to the nuclear dispute. Pundits in Iran are pessimistic over Mora’s chances of making a breakthrough in his visit to Tehran.
Western officials have largely lost hope that it can be resurrected, sources familiar with the matter said, forcing them to weigh how to limit Iran's atomic program even as Russia's invasion of Ukraine has divided the big powers.
In the absence of an agreement to revive the JCPOA, Iran's economy has been gripped by chaos of rising food prices and possible political instability.
"We are, of course, still hopeful that some agreement is going to be reached within a reasonable time frame, although we have to recognise the fact that the window of opportunity could be closed any anytime," Grossi said.
Based on reporting by Reuters