UN Secretary-General Rafael Grossi arrived in Iran late on Saturday for talks ahead of Tehran’s deadline to lift US sanctions, as President Joe Biden called for “careful diplomacy”.
The deadline, set by Iranian lawmakers, threatens to suspend certain nuclear weapons inspections, raising international concerns about the possible expulsion of UN inspectors.
But Iran has stressed that it will not stop working with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or expel its inspectors.
Grossi was received in Tehran by Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, Kazem Gharibabadi and the Iran Atomic Energy Organization, Behrouz Kamalvandi, Gharibabadi, tweeted Saturday night. The IAEA chief’s visit is due on Sunday.
On Friday, Grossi tweeted that he would “meet with senior Iranian officials to find a mutually appealing solution, compatible with Iranian law, so that @iaeaorg can continue important verification activities in Iran”.
“Looking forward to success – this is in everyone’s interest,” he added.
Tomorrow I will travel to Tehran to meet with leading Iranian officials to find a mutually appealing solution, compatible with Iranian law, so that @IAEAorg can continue important verification activities in Iran. Looking forward to success – this is in everyone’s interest.
– Rafael MarianoGrossi (@rafaelmgrossi) February 19, 2021
Iran has notified the IAEA that it will suspend “voluntary transparency measures”, in particular inspection visits to non-nuclear facilities, including military sites suspected of nuclear activity, unless the United States has lifted the extensive sanctions imposed by former President Donald Trump in 2018.
The new measures, outlined in a law passed by the Conservative-dominated parliament in December, will take effect on Tuesday, Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi confirmed on Saturday.
When Iran implements the law and “the other side has not yet fulfilled its obligations to lift sanctions, inspections beyond safeguards will be suspended”, state TV Salehi quoted on its website.
He added that “during tomorrow’s (Sunday) meeting with Mr Grossi, the IAEA’s considerations in the framework of the security agreement and bilateral cooperation will be reviewed and discussed”.
‘Diplomatic back and forth’
The visit comes in the wake of Biden’s call on Friday for European powers to work together to curb Iran’s ‘destabilizing’ activities, a day after pledging to rejoin talks on Tehran’s nuclear program.
Biden told the Munich Security Conference that the United States will work closely with allies in dealing with Iran after his predecessor Trump adopted an aggressive one-sided approach.
“The threat of nuclear proliferation also continues to require careful diplomacy and cooperation between us,” Biden told fellow leaders via teleconference.
“That is why we have said that we are prepared to resume negotiations with P5 + 1 on Iran’s nuclear program,” he said, referring to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.
Tehran has repeatedly said it is ready to return to its nuclear commitments, provided that Washington does so first by lifting the sanctions imposed by Trump that have hit Iran’s economy hard.
Following an offer of negotiations from the Biden administration, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on Friday that Iran would “immediately lift” its retaliation measures if the United States lifts “all sanctions imposed, reintroduced or re-marked by Trump.”
The United States acknowledged Pompeo’s claims about Res. 2231 had no legal validity.
In accordance with 2231:
The United States unconditionally and effectively repeals all sanctions imposed, imposed or re-marked by Trump.
We will then immediately reverse all corrective action.
– Javad Zarif (@JZarif) February 19, 2021
The former president withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018, while Iran began next year to suspend compliance with key nuclear commitments in response.
In an initial gesture, the Biden administration has lost pressure for more sanctions drafted by Trump and removed restrictions on Iranian diplomats accredited to the UN in New York.
Iran’s government spokesman Ali Rabiei stressed on Saturday that Tehran’s latest nuclear movement would not stop it from responding to any US display of goodwill and expressed optimism about the ongoing diplomatic process.
It is “neither against our (agreement) commitments nor an obstacle to a proportionate and appropriate response to US actions to prove (its) goodwill”, he wrote in a statement to the government newspaper Iran.
“We can confidently predict that diplomatic initiatives will work well (to achieve) the desired result, despite diplomatic back and forth, which is the natural start of all sides returning to commitments, including the lifting of all sanctions in the near future. , he added.