United Nations nuclear chief Rafael Grossi said he hoped to meet Iranian officials within days as Iranian and US presidents addressed the General Assembly.
Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), reiterated his desire to settle outstanding monitoring issues over Iran’s nuclear program and his readiness “to re-engage” with the Iranians.
In speeches to the General Assembly, both President Ebrahim Raisi and President Joe Biden expressed willingness to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The agreement has lapsed since former President Donald Trump withdrew the US in 2018 and imposed draconian sanctions targeting Iran’s energy exports and financial sector.
In a speech littered with references to unjust and unilateral US behavior, including over ‘human rights,’ Raisi argued that with 2 percent of the world’s nuclear activities, Iran had been subject to 35 percent of international inspections.
Raisi stressed Iran’s commitment to the peaceful use of nuclear technology. As verified by 15 IAEA reports, Iran had observed the terms of the JCPOA, he said.
Raisi highlighted Tehran’s concern over a lack of ‘guarantees’ that could cushion Iran should the US again leave the accord and re-impose sanctions. This appears to be a central remaining challenge in 18-month JCPOA talks between Iran and world powers along with Tehran’s expectation that the IAEA drop enquiries into its pre-2003 work, enquiries Grossi is committed to continue.
Speaking shortly after Raisi, Biden told the UN General Assembly the US was “prepared for a mutual return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action if Iran steps up to its obligations.” Biden said the US would “not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon” and that he continued “to believe diplomacy is the best way to achieve this outcome.”
Biden said the US stood “with the brave citizens and the brave women of Iran who right now are demonstrating to secure their basic rights.”
Raisi made no reference to the protests that continued Wednesday as the government mostly shut down the internet in the country to prevent news and images being shared.