March 29, 2023

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UPDATE 2-IAEA’s Grossi begins talks in Iran on nuclear cooperation

(Adds Grossi begins talks in Iran)

March 3 (Reuters) – The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi began talks in Iran on Friday, which diplomats said were aimed at pushing Tehran to cooperate with a probe into uranium traces found at undeclared sites.

Grossi held talks with the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Eslami, after arriving in Tehran on a two-day visit, the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported.

“The agenda of these meetings include remaining safeguard issues as well as technical and legal disagreements between Iran and the IAEA,” IRNA said, without elaborating.

Iran’s stonewalling of the IAEA’s years-long investigation into uranium traces found at three undeclared sites prompted the United Nations watchdog’s 35-nation Board of Governors to pass a resolution at its last quarterly meeting in November ordering Tehran to cooperate urgently with the probe.

That cooperation has not materialised and Grossi is hoping that a meeting with Raisi will help smooth the way towards ending the deadlock, diplomats say. The board’s next quarterly meeting starts on Monday.

Diplomats have said for weeks that Grossi wanted to meet hardline President Ebrahim Raisi on this visit. The IAEA did not spell out whom he would meet.

The visit comes amid discussions with Tehran on the origin of uranium particles enriched to up to 83.7% purity, very close to weapons grade, at its Fordow enrichment plant, according to a report by the nuclear watchdog seen by Reuters. Eslami said on Wednesday that the Islamic Republic’s production was at 60%, according to state media. (Editing by John Stonestreet and Alex Richardson)

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