Iran shut down its nuclear facilities last Sunday over “security considerations,” UN nuclear chief Rafael Grossi has said, expressing concern over the “possibility” of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear sites.

Speaking to reporters in New York on Monday, IAEA Director General confirmed that the facilities had reopened within 24 hours, but with no IAEA supervision, as the agency has decided to keep its inspectors away until the situation is “completely calm.”

Grossi was referring to rising tensions between Israel and Iran, which many fear may lead to an all-out war between the two countries and potentially engulf the whole Middle East.

Israel bombed Iran’s consulate in Damascus on 1 April, killing seven members of the Islamic Revolution’s Guards Corpse (IRGC), including a high-ranking commander and his deputy. Iran retaliated on 13 April, launching more than 300 missiles and drones towards Israel –all but a few of which were intercepted by Israel and its allies.

On Monday, Israeli officials vowed to respond to the attack. When asked about the possibility of Israel hitting Iran’s nuclear sites, Grossi said, “We are always concerned about this possibility.” He urged both sides to show “extreme restraint”.

Grossi also reiterated the IAEA’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.

“A bit more than a year ago, I went to Tehran and signed a joint declaration with the Iranian government indicating a number of actions that we will be taking together with Iran,” Grossi said. “We started that process and that process was interrupted. And I have been insisting that we need to go back to that understanding that we had in March 2023.”

In September 2023, Iran withdrew the designation of several inspectors assigned to conduct verification activities in Iran under the Non-Proliferation Treaty Safeguards Agreement. Iran’s nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami later claimed that those expelled had had a history of "extremist political behavior”.

“We are always urging, asking and requiring Iran to cooperate with us in full,” Grossi told Iran International’s Maryam Rahmati. “It's not that we are not there, but we are not there at the level that we consider we should be.”

The IAEA reported in February that Iran is enriching and stockpiling near-weapons-grade uranium, warning that such elevated purity cannot be explained by civilian applications.

When asked about Iran’s enrichment levels by Iran International, Grossi siad, “the fact that there is an accumulation of uranium enriched at very, very high levels does not automatically mean you're having a weapon…but it raises questions in the international community.”

Iran has always denied seeking nuclear weapons, but no other state has enriched to that level without producing them.

A report published last month by the Institute for Science and International Security claimed that Iran is moving ahead with building a nuclear site deep underground near Natanz.

“This Iranian nuclear weapons-making facility could be impervious to Israeli and perhaps even American bombs,” Foundation for Defense of Democracies CEO Mark Dubowitz said at the time. “Time is quickly running out, as Iran moves into a zone of nuclear immunity, to deny the regime permanent use of this deadly site.”

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