International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Grossi addresses a news conference during an IAEA Board of Governors meeting in Vienna, Austria, on March 6, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)
VIENNA/TEHRAN – No "production" or "accumulation" of high enriched uranium has been found by the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) inspectors in Iran, said Rafael Grossi, the agency's director-general, on Monday, as an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said a new chapter was opened in the IAEA-Iran cooperation during Gossi's visit to Tehran.
Grossi made the statement on the sidelines of an IAEA Board of Governors meeting, following a report by Bloomberg on Feb 19 claiming that the IAEA inspectors in Iran had detected particles of uranium enriched to levels "just below that needed for a nuclear weapon."
Iranian authorities have rejected such reports in the past few days, underlining the peaceful goals of its nuclear program.
Addressing the IAEA Board of Governors earlier on Monday, Grossi confirmed that particles of uranium "well beyond the enrichment level declared by Iran" had been found at the Fordow plant in January. The agency and Iran have now initiated technical discussions to clarify this issue, he added.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian (front left) speaks with International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Grossi (front right) during a round of talks in Tehran, March 4, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)
According to a joint statement released after IAEA director-general Rafael Grossi's visit, Iran has agreed to allow the United Nations nuclear watchdog to "implement further appropriate verification and monitoring activities," and the two sides have pledged to enhance cooperation to resolve the outstanding safeguards issues
Nevertheless, Grossi said at the press conference that "it is true that certain oscillations are possible in this type of cascade, so you may have readings higher than the expected levels from the operator."
The IAEA chief visited Tehran on Friday and Saturday, and met with high-level Iranian officials including the country's president Ebrahim Raisi.
According to a joint statement released after Grossi's visit, Iran has agreed to allow the United Nations nuclear watchdog to "implement further appropriate verification and monitoring activities," and the two sides have pledged to enhance cooperation to resolve the outstanding safeguards issues.
ALSO READ: Iran agrees to more of IAEA's inspections of nuclear sites
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said at a weekly press conference that "good agreements" were reached between Tehran and the IAEA during Grossi's visit.
The spokesman lauded Grossi's trip as extension of Iran's "active diplomacy" with the agency, expressing hope that such efforts would prepare the ground for the resolution of technical differences.
Kanaani said Iran expects the IAEA to fulfill its responsibilities and obligations and defend the member states' nuclear rights.
He said in view of the agreements reached between Iran and the IAEA in Tehran, it is expected that the ongoing meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors would reflect a technical trend free from "politicization of the issues and political pressures by certain sides."
In reference to the talks on the revival of a 2015 nuclear deal, Kanaani said although no official and overt negotiations have been held between Iran and the United States, the two sides are exchanging messages, and the European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell is among the channels through which messages are exchanged.
He said Grossi's visit to Iran was part of efforts to pave the way for all parties' return to the nuclear deal.
This file photo taken on Nov 10, 2019 shows an Iranian flag in Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant. (ATTA KENARE / AFP)
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said in view of the agreements reached between Iran and the IAEA in Tehran, it is expected that the ongoing meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors would reflect a technical trend free from "politicization of the issues and political pressures by certain sides"
In the joint statement issued at the end of Grossi's two-day visit on Saturday, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and IAEA said they have reached a consensus that their interactions should be carried out "in a spirit of collaboration and in full conformity with the competencies of the IAEA and Iran's rights and obligations."
ALSO READ: Iran, IAEA to boost cooperation to resolve safeguards issues
In recent months, the IAEA had criticized Iran for its lack of cooperation with the agency.
In November last year, the IAEA's Board of Governors passed a resolution proposed by the United States, Britain, France and Germany that called on Iran to collaborate with the agency's investigators regarding "uranium traces."
Iran has repeatedly rejected such allegations and emphasized the peaceful nature of its nuclear program.
Iran signed the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with world powers in July 2015, agreeing to put some curbs on its nuclear program in return for the removal of the sanctions on the country. The United States, however, pulled out of the deal in May 2018 and reimposed its unilateral sanctions on Tehran, prompting the latter to reduce some of its nuclear commitments under the deal.
The talks on the JCPOA's revival began in April 2021 in Vienna. No breakthrough has been achieved after the latest round of talks in August 2022.
ALSO READ: IAEA's Grossi begins talks in Iran on nuclear cooperation
Missiles to destroy marine targets
Separately, an Iranian general said Iran can produce ballistic missiles capable of destroying fast-moving marine targets, according to semi-official Tasnim news agency.
Iranian Armed Forces Chief of the General Staff Mohammad Baqeri made the remarks on the sidelines of a meeting with a number of the country's elite soldiers.
The missiles went through tests successfully and mass production has started, he noted, adding it can hit a target moving at a speed of Mach 8 and within 1,500-km range with pinpoint precision.