Iran’s nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami said Wednesday that no Iran trip was scheduled by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to resolve differences.

IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi said last week Iran had proposed a visit by senior agency officials before the end of November. It was unclear whether Eslami, in remarks reported by state media, was suggesting that no agreement had been reached on a precise remit for discussions, or whether Iran had withdrawn the proposal given the resolution critical of Iran moved Wednesday by the United States and three European states at the IAEA quarterly board meeting.

The IAEA has called on Iran to offer ‘credible’ explanations for traces of uranium found at sites linked to nuclear work before 2003. Iran has argued the agency enquiries responded to Israeli allegations made in 2018 and should be shelved to facilitate reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).

Eslami said Iran rejected the resolution – raised by the US, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom – that calls it “essential and urgent” for Tehran to satisfy the agency. When a similar motion overwhelmingly passed the IAEA board in June it was criticized by both Russia and China as unhelpful in 18-month talks to revive the JCPOA, which the US left in 2018.

US special envoy Rob Malley suggested Mondaythat Iran’s supply of military drones to Russia and mistreatment of domestic protestors were both contributing to a US lack on focus on JCPOA talks, but Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Wednesday that Washington was acting hypocritically.

Amir-Abdollahian charged that the US sought to “put pressure” on Iran to “deviate from our red lines” in the talks, and that the latest exchange of messages had been within the previous 72 hours. Iran has insisted that, given the US withdrawal from the JCPOA, it needs ‘guarantees’ against the economic damage a second withdrawal would inflict.

With Malley Monday linking the JCPOA talks to other issues – rejecting the separation on which the 2015 agreement was largely built – the special envoy met Tuesday with his French, German, and UK counterparts in Paris.

While the administration of President Joe Biden came into office pledged to revive the JCPOA it continued the ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions introduced by President Donald Trump on leaving the agreement in 2018. Failure of Washington and Tehran to reach conclusions either in multilateral talks in Vienna – involving China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK, and the US – or in bilateral meetings have seen Iran continue a nuclear expansion that began in 2019 and reduce its cooperation with the IAEA.

Iran now has 3,674kg of enriched uranium, far above the 267kg JCPOA limit, and including 62kg enriched to 60 percent, a relatively short step from the 90 percent considered ‘weapons grade.’ Under the JCPOA it enriched to only 3.67 percent.

Malley said Monday the US would discuss with the Europeans what steps to take should Iran continue this path. He warned there was “no magic in which we will find a new formula.”

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24 with Fardad
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