The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, will visit Tehran on Friday for high-level meetings. The visit comes amid discussions with Tehran on the origin of uranium particles enriched up to 83.7% purity, very close to weapons grade, at its Fordow enrichment plant. Iran has rejected claims of enrichment to that level, and the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, Mohammad Eslami, said on Wednesday that the Islamic Republic’s production is at 60%, according to state media.
Eslami also referred to a report about uranium particles enriched to nearly 84% and said that the issue was related to sampling a single particle that cannot be seen even with a microscope. He emphasized that what is important is the amount of material that is stored after production, which the IAEA inspectors observed and confirmed was not more than 60%.
On Monday, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran announced that Grossi would visit Iran “in the coming days” following an official invitation from its director, Mohammad Eslami. The visit follows discussions with an IAEA delegation that was already in Iran to clear up any doubts about its nuclear program. The organization expressed hope that the visit would form the basis for greater cooperation and a clearer horizon between Iran and the IAEA.
The latest visit by IAEA inspectors comes amid deadlock in negotiations on reviving the 2015 deal known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which promised Iran relief from crippling economic sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear activities. The United States unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions, prompting Iran to suspend the implementation of its own commitments under the agreement.
Following the revelation of the uranium particles, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency warned that Iran could enrich uranium to weapons-grade within weeks, but added that the United States does not believe Iranian leaders have yet decided to do so. Iran has denied enriching uranium to such a level, insisting it had not made any attempt to enrich beyond 60%, well past the 3.67% threshold set out in the JCPOA.
Eslami also spoke about a report in which non-compliance of centrifuges or the presence of particles was declared. He stated that the case was resolved after the IAEA inspectors’ investigations, which revealed that there was no specific deviation. He added that accusations like these had been raised for 20 years, and that the reason for signing the JCPOA was such accusations.