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Iran Allows IAEA Access To 'Suspected' Nuclear Sites Amid US Pressure

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi (R) speaks during a press conference with Iranian Atomic Energy Organization chief Ali-Akbar Salehi in Tehran, Iran August 25, 2020.

Iran has agreed to allow access to IAEA inspectors to two sites, one near Isfahan and another close to Tehran, where the agency suspects undeclared nuclear activities have taken place.

The agreement was made at the end of a visit to Iran by IAEA Chief Rafael Grossi during which he met with President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, and Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Chief Ali Akbar Salehi.

Iran and the IAEA declared earlier today that the talks between Grossi and Iranian officials were "constructive."

Based on a joint statement issued at the end of the visit by Grossi, "Iran has voluntarily allowed access to IAEA inspectors to inspect the two sites and to facilitate the verification of the country's nuclear program based on IAEA protocols, and mutual understanding and trust within the frameworks of boosting mutual cooperation."

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of secret nuclear activities in the past, Iranian officials such as foreign minister Javad Zarif dismissed it as a falsehood. But since then U.S. “maximum pressure” in the form of relentless sanctions have pushed the Islamic Republic into a very difficult economic situation and it is trying not to provide more reasons for Washington to isolate it any further.

Based on the agreement, the two sites in Shahreza (near Isfahan) and Torqouzabad (near Tehran) may be visited by IAEA inspectors.

The IAEA declared on its official website that based on the information available, it has no further request to access other sites and has no more questions about the previously undeclared locations.

However, the statement did not say when IAEA inspectors will be visiting the sites in question.

The agency further stated that it will respect Iran's security concerns.

International news agencies had reported earlier that Grossi was visiting Iran to exert pressure on Tehran to allow the inspection of facilities suspected of stockpiling or using undeclared nuclear material.

The IAEA has been calling for months for Iran's permission to access two sites in the vicinity of Tehran and Isfahan. The sites are suspected of having been the venue of undeclared nuclear activities in the early 2000s.

Some news agencies including Reuters say they have seen IAEA reports that indicate the two places were demolished in 2003 and 2004 to wipe traces of Uranium.

In late June, the Board of Governors of the IAEA issued a resolution suggested by Germany, France, and the United Kingdom that criticized Iran for its undeclared nuclear activities and for not allowing access to IAEA inspectors to the two places.

This was the first critical resolution by an international organization about Iran's nuclear activities during the past eight years.

The three European states had called in the resolution for ending the ban on IAEA inspectors' visit and demanded Iran's full cooperation with the IAEA.

Iran has gradually stopped to fulfil some of the obligations it had accepted voluntarily, and at the same time increased the amount and enrichment level of the Uranium it stockpiled. The EU-3 had warned Iran about this frequently during the past year, warning that this could end the 2005 nuclear deal also called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Foreign Minister Zarif has described the talks with Grossi as "very constructive," and nuclear chief Salehi has said that Grossi's visit has started "a new chapter" in Iran's relations with IAEA.

Before Iran stopped full cooperation following the imposition of new sanctions, all IAEA reports asserted that Tehran was in compliance with the JCPOA. However, currently, Iran is not observing any of the limits set on the volume and degree of Uranium enrichment based on the JCPOA, but it still allows IAEA inspectors to visit its nuclear establishments.