IS THERE ANY COMMON GROUND FOR UN TO ACCEPT IRAN’S NUCLEAR PROGRAMME?

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A day after announcing that Iran has significantly boosted its stockpile of highly enriched uranium, the UN nuclear watchdog said it was looking for “common ground” with the Islamic republic.

Rafael Grossi, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, made the statements during discussions with officials in Tehran ahead of negotiations next week aimed at rescuing the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.

His visit comes after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran has increased its stockpile of highly enriched uranium to levels several times more than the limit set under the landmark nuclear deal.

According to Grossi, who spoke at a joint press conference in Tehran with Mohammad Eslami, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, “our work has been rigorous since the morning.”

In advance of the expected restart on Monday of discussions between Tehran and international powers aimed at preserving the 2015 nuclear agreement that granted Iran sanctions relief in exchange for limitations on its nuclear programme, the talks are taking place in Vienna.

Grossi had characterised his lack of touch with the new Iranian administration of ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi as “astonishing” on November 12, a day after the new government was inaugurated.

A few days later, Tehran reacted by announcing that the chairman of Iran’s watchdog had been invited to visit the country.

Grossi’s visit was not mentioned in any of Iran’s ultraconservative media on Tuesday, according to Reuters. In a statement issued on Monday, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh expressed the hope that his visit will be “productive.

According to him, “we have always recommended the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to continue on the road of technical cooperation and to not allow some nations to pursue their political orientations on behalf of the IAEA.”

It was in 2019, a year after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the agreement and started applying severe penalties, that Iran began to ease its obligations under the agreement.

Since 2017, Tehran has demanded that the United States remove all of the restrictions that have been imposed or reimposed on the Iranian government.

According to an AFP article from last Wednesday, Iran has increased its stockpile of highly enriched uranium to 2,489.7 kg, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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