x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

IAEA confirms it will visit Iran at end of month

The UN atomic agency confirms a high-level visit to Iran would take place next week for talks on Tehran's contested nuclear drive.

VIENNA // The UN atomic agency confirmed yesterday a high-level visit to Iran would take place next week for talks on Tehran's contested nuclear drive.

The team from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which will visit Iran from January 29-31, will be led by the chief inspector, Herman Nackaerts, and the Vienna-based body's number two, Rafael Grossi.

"The agency team is going to Iran in a constructive spirit, and we trust that Iran will work with us in that same spirit," the IAEA director general, Yukiya Amano, said.

Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Ashgar Soltanieh, was quoted by the Fars news agency last week as giving the same dates for the trip.

In November an IAEA report, rejected as "baseless" by Iran, said the agency was able to build an overall impression that Tehran "carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device".

Since the report, western countries have sought to increase pressure on Iran, with Washington and Brussels taking aim at Iran's oil industry and central bank, while pressing Japan, China and others to join them.

Iran denies seeking atomic weapons, saying its programme is peaceful, but western countries suspect otherwise and the UN Security Council has slapped four rounds of sanctions on the country.