Seasoned diplomat, Rafael Grossi has plenty to ask questions. The director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) can no longer reach Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian by phone. He did not have this kind of annoyance before the presidential election in June, which saw the victory of the ultra-conservative Ebrahim Raïssi. While the nuclear issue mobilizes the chancelleries, who are struggling to save the 2015 agreement (JCPoA), Rafael Grossi is due to visit Iran in the coming days. He wants to avoid an irremediable break in the work of the inspectors, on the sites listed. “We could have seen each other before, but we cannot invite ourselves”, he sums up not without humor.
In an interview with World granted on October 21 during his visit to Washington, where he notably met the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, the director of the IAEA confirmed that “Things dragged on” since his previous trip to Tehran in September. It was then a question of wresting, in disaster, an agreement with the authorities to ensure the continuity of the work of surveillance and inspection. These purely technical discussions focused in particular on the replacement of memory cards in CCTV cameras installed by the IAEA.
But since then, the implementation has been faulty. Iran has not granted access to the Karaj site, west of the capital, where centrifuge components are manufactured. Agency cameras no longer work there. “We have asked several times to come back to it, explains Rafael Grossi. On failed to do so. It will be part of the discussion topics, and it is essential. “ In June, this facility was hit by an explosion, which had not been cleared up.
Major test of the regime’s intentions
The director of the Agency also wants to discuss the three already old nuclear sites where traces of anthropogenic uranium have been found. For now, he refuses to consider a breaking point. “The Iranians saw that it was better to count on cooperation than on open confrontation with the Agency. It’s a showdown. Sometimes we apply the pressure, sometimes they relax, they do that very well. I have my red lines. ” When asked about the risks of a North Korean scenario, with an expulsion of IAEA inspectors and an unbridled nuclear program, Rafael Grossi does not evade. “We have to avoid that. The geostrategic situations, the countries are different. But this analogy can be applied on one point. North Korea is a case of a non-proliferation crisis where we have failed. We could not avoid a degradation. Now it is a country with [de l’arme nucléaire]. Iran, no. ”
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