Iran on Wednesday agreed to allow the UN watchdog the access that it has requested to two alleged nuclear sites, as the head of the agency ended his first visit to Tehran.
The announcement came only hours after Iran’s arch foe the US suffered a humiliating defeat when the UN blocked its controversial bid to reimpose international sanctions on the Islamic republic.
The US move had threatened to torpedo a historic 2015 accord under which Iran had agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
The deal known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has been hanging by a thread since US President Donald Trump’s unilateral decision to withdraw from it in 2018.
Since then, Iran has retaliated by gradually reducing its commitments to the deal, but it agreed on Wednesday to grant the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) the access that it has sought to two sites that were suspected of having hosted undeclared activity in the early 2000s.
“Iran is voluntarily providing the IAEA with access to the two locations specified by the IAEA,” the two sides said in a joint statement, adding that they had agreed on dates for site access and verification.
The announcement came at the end of IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi’s first visit to Iran since the Argentine took the post last year.
On returning to Vienna, where the IAEA is based, Grossi told reporters that agency inspectors would visit the sites “very, very soon.”
He said that he could not reveal the exact dates.
In their statement, the two sides said that the agreement followed “intensive bilateral consultations” and that the IAEA had no further access requests.
“Based on analysis of available information to the IAEA, the IAEA does not have further questions to Iran and further requests for access to locations,” they said.
“Both sides recognize that the independence, impartiality and professionalism of the IAEA continue to be essential in the fulfilment of its verification activities,” they added.
The IAEA’s board of governors had passed a resolution in late June put forward by Britain, France and Germany, urging Tehran to provide inspectors access to the two disputed sites.
On Wednesday, Grossi met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani before wrapping up his visit.
“Iran, like before, is ready to closely cooperate with the agency in the framework of safeguards,” Rouhani said, according to the government’s official Web site.
He called the agreement “favorable” and said it can help “finally settle issues.”
After meeting Grossi, Atomic Energy Organization of Iran President Ali Akbar Salehi said that a “new chapter” had started in relations between the country and the agency.
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