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IAEA Chief To Visit Tehran Amid Heightened Tensions Over Iran Sanctions

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi addresses the media after a board of governors meeting at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, June 15, 2020

In a tweet on Saturday the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) Chief Rafael Grossi said he will travel to Tehran on Monday to address the outstanding questions related to the Agency's safeguards in Iran.

"I hope to establish a fruitful and cooperative channel of direct dialogue. It is necessary," Grossi tweeted and in a statement added: "My objective is that my meetings in Tehran will lead to concrete progress in addressing the outstanding questions that the Agency has related to safeguards in Iran and, in particular, to resolve the issue of access".

This will be the first visit of the IAEA chief to Tehran since his appointment as director-general in December.

Iran's nuclear facilities are under IAEA safeguards, including both safeguards verification and verification and monitoring in connection with the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

On July 15 Grossi warned Iran of "bad" consequences if access was not granted by the end of July to two sites where undeclared nuclear activities may have taken place in the past.

Access was not granted despite the ultimatum but according to Reuters diplomats in Vienna say they hope the standoff over access will be resolved before the next Board of Governors meeting in September.

In retaliation for the withdrawal of the United States from JCPOA in 2018 and reintroduction of crippling U.S. sanctions Iran has also taken some reverse steps including adding to its stockpile of enriched uranium. In March the stockpile had increased by more than five times the 300 kg limit set under the agreement.

"In order to preserve the agreement, we urge Iran to reverse all measures inconsistent with its nuclear commitments and return to full compliance without delay," the European troika; France, Germany and Britain said in a statement on August 20.

Meanwhile, following the formal launch of the process of activating a mechanism aimed at reviving U.N. sanctions on Iran by the United States on Thursday, the European Union has said that the joint commission on the Iran nuclear agreement will meet in Vienna on September 1.

France, Germany, and Britain have said that they cannot support Washington’s move because the U.S. is not entitled to invoking the provisions of the nuclear agreement after leaving it in May 2018.