The head of the UN nuclear weapons inspectorate was forced to qualify some of the claims he made about commitments he had extracted from Iran at the weekend about increasing access to UN inspectors. At his first press conference on his return from Tehran on Saturday, Rafael Grossi said “yes” when asked if Iran had pledged to restore all the cameras and other surveillance equipment that it had removed from its nuclear-related sites. But at Monday’s press conference, he qualified this, saying it required further discussion.
Grossi’s visit to Tehran came ahead of a meeting of the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency this week to discuss a possible further censure of Iran for failure to cooperate with inspectors. If the IAEA board passes a highly critical resolution, Iran might again respond by increasing levels of uranium enrichment and stockpiles that are already in excess of the limits set in the nuclear deal of 2015. It could also destroy some of the camera footage it has been storing at nuclear sites by not handing it to the UN inspectors, a move that would further damage the IAEA’s continuity of knowledge about the nuclear programme.
A concern is that Tehran is making vague promises to carry it over the hurdle of the IAEA board meeting. On the other hand, the US, preoccupied with Ukraine, appears not to be in the mood to censure Iran over its nuclear programme or to try to restore the stalled nuclear deal. At his press conference, Grossi dismissed public statements by Iranian officials that they would not give him access to key Iranian nuclear scientists, implying that behind the scenes they are sending him different messages.