The chief of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog Rafael Grossi is expected to visit Iran, as Tehran casts doubt on a possible new deal with the United States under the Biden administration.
Grossi is set to hold meetings with Iranian officials in Tehran on this week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed.
The meeting is set to take place before indirect talks between Iran and the United States on Nov. 29, Reuters reported. The U.S. and Tehran are expected to discuss the potential to restart the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, the nuclear deal with Iran.
The United States pulled out of the landmark 2015 deal in 2018, after then-President Donald Trump said the pact needed to be renegotiated. The deal had promised Iran economic incentives in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. The Trump administration re-imposed heavy sanctions on the Islamic republic in an unsuccessful attempt to bring Tehran into new talks.
Iran reacted by steadily increasing its violations of the deal, which is intended to prevent the country from obtaining nuclear weapons. Iran began enriching uranium to a greater purity, stockpiling more than allowed and beginning to use more advanced centrifuges in an attempt to pressure the world powers remaining in the deal – Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China – for economic relief.
President Biden has said he wants to rejoin the deal, but said Iran needs to return to compliance.
During his address to the United Nations General Assembly in September, Biden said the United States “remains committed to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” adding that the nation is “seeking a return to the JCPOA.”
“We are prepared to return to full compliance if Iran does the same,” Biden said.
And last month, during Biden’s visit overseas, he spoke with European allies to discuss a strategy, press for a diplomatic resolution and plan for the possibility of Iran declining to return to the negotiating table on the nuclear deal.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that the IAEA reported to member states a range of conflicts between the agency and Iran, including one report suggesting that Iranian security officials had continued to subject IAEA inspectors to “excessively invasive searches, which resulted in them feeling intimidated.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.