Iran says to maintain 'ordinary and technical' cooperation with IAEA

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Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), briefs the press at the agency's headquarters in Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2021. [Photo/Dean Calma/IAEA handout via Xinhua]

Iran will maintain its "ordinary and technical" cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as long as the UN nuclear watchdog sticks to a "non-political and non-discriminatory" approach to Iran, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

"If some people with political motives want to contaminate cooperation based on technical understanding, Iran's response will be appropriate," the ministry's spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in his weekly press conference, ahead of an IAEA board of governors meeting starting on Monday morning in Vienna.

Some may have been looking for the adoption of a resolution against Iran in the board meeting, "but this is not what has been achieved in the technical framework between Iran and the IAEA," he added.

On Sunday, Director General of the IAEA Rafael Grossi made a one-day visit to Tehran and met Mohammad Eslami, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), for the first time since Eslami was appointed in August.

Khatibzadeh said Grossi's visit was for the upcoming IAEA board meeting, and "positive consultations" were conducted during the visit concerning issues that were already attended within the current cooperation framework.

In the meeting between Grossi and Eslami, it was agreed that the Iran-IAEA cooperation will continue "within the framework of technical cooperation and without external intervention," the spokesman added.

It was also agreed that Grossi will travel to Iran after this week's board meeting to discuss pending issues on the cooperation agenda, and he will continue to make trips to Iran "on a more regular basis" in the future.

Concerning the specific issues discussed during Sunday's meeting, Khatibzadeh said the memory cards of some IAEA monitoring cameras at Iran's nuclear sites will be replaced, and some cameras that need reparation will be fixed.

The IAEA, he stressed, will perform its operations without having access to the films or the memory cards, and without increased access based on the IAEA's Additional Protocol in Iran.

The implementation of the Additional Protocol was not included in the text of the 2015 nuclear agreement, commonly known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and Iran's parliament passed a law in December 2020, requiring the government to halt its "voluntary implementation" of the protocol.

Later this week, the head of Iran's atomic agency will lead a delegation to Vienna to attend the meeting of the IAEA's board, the Iranian spokesman said.

The AEOI was part of Iran's negotiating team during the Vienna talks aiming at reviving the JCPOA, and it directly led Iran's technical and nuclear working groups during the negotiations, Khatibzadeh said in response to a journalist who asked whether the talks will be resumed during Eslami's trip to Vienna.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said on Aug. 22 that Tehran would engage in "reasonable" negotiations, provided the talks "serve the Iranian people's interests."

Former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 agreement in May 2018 and unilaterally re-imposed sanctions on Iran. In response, Iran has gradually ceased to perform parts of its commitments under the deal since May 2019, invoking provisions within the text of the accord.

After six rounds of talks in Vienna since April, the parties said serious differences remain between Iran and the United States for the revitalization of the agreement. The sixth round of talks ended on June 20, two days after Iran's June 18 presidential election.

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