UN nuclear watchdog head leaves Iran after failing to reach deal on inspections

The head of the United Nations's nuclear watchdog left Iran after failing to reach a deal on inspections of Tehran’s nuclear activities. 

Rafael Grossi, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said in a news conference on Wednesday that negotiations between his agency and Tehran have been “inconclusive.”

“We could not agree yesterday,” Grossi said. “In spite of my best efforts, we could not agree, yesterday. I made great efforts, but we couldn’t.”


Grossi’s comments come as the IAEA’s 35-country board of governors kick off a three-day virtual meeting, during which Iran's activities and facilities will be discussed.

The IAEA has repeatedly said that it was struggling with its capability to monitor Iran’s nuclear program.

One of the more pressing issues has been a facility in Karaj, where the government reportedly restarted producing centrifuges that could enrich uranium.  The plant was attacked in June, during which one of four IAEA cameras on site was destroyed.

The watchdog made a deal in September where Tehran would allow access to all nuclear sites and restore surveillance equipment, but the agency later warned that it was denied access to the Karaj facility. 

Meanwhile, the U.S. and Iran plan to resume talks in Vienna on returning to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). 

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel faces double-edged sword with Alex Jones, Roger Stone Trump goes after Woodward, Costa over China Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE pulled the U.S. out of the deal in 2018, and Iran began flouting the terms of agreement — which also involved other countries — a year later. Talks to resume the deal were paused in June, due in part to Iran’s elections.

Grossi told the board that the inability to monitor the Karaj facility is “seriously affecting the Agency’s ability to restore continuity of knowledge at the workshop, which has been widely recognized as essential in relation to a return to the JCPOA.”

Outside of the Karaj facility, Grossi told the board that he is still concerned by his agency’s inspectors being subjected to “invasive physical searches by security officials at nuclear facilities in Iran.”