Iran says nuclear deal in jeopardy without US guarantees, closure of IAEA probes

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi addresses the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York City, US, September 21, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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NEW YORK, Sept 22 (Reuters) – Iran sees no point in saving a 2015 nuclear pact without guarantees the United States would not withdraw again and international inspectors close investigations of Tehran’s atomic program, Iran’s hardline president said on Thursday.

Signaling failure of attempts at the United Nations General Assembly to overcome an impasse, President Ebrahim Raisi said: “What is the use of having a revived deal without assuring guarantees that the US will not violate again?”

After a meeting with Raisi on Tuesday in New York, French President Emmanuel Macron said that “the ball on reaching a nuclear deal with Iran is now in Tehran’s camp”.

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But Raisi, in a televised news conference, blamed the accord’s European parties and the United States for failure to revive it.

“How can we have a lasting agreement if these probes are not closed? We can have a good deal if Americans and Europeans fulfill their commitments.”

In addition to seeking guarantees, the Islamic Republic wants the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, to drop its years-long investigation into unexplained traces of uranium found at three undeclared sites in Iran.

The agreement limited Iran’s uranium enrichment activity to make it harder for Tehran to develop nuclear arms, in return for lifting international sanctions.

But then-US President Donald Trump ditched the deal in 2018, saying it did not do enough to curb Iran’s nuclear activities, ballistic missile program and regional influence, and reimposed sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.

In response, Tehran breached the deal by rebuilding stockpiles of enriched uranium, refining it to higher fissile purity and installing advanced centrifuges to speed up output.

Months of indirect talks between Iran and US President Joe Biden’s administration appeared near revival in March in Vienna, but negotiations broke down over obstacles such as Iran demanding the United States provide guarantees that no future US president would abandon the deal and IAEA guarantees.

Biden cannot provide such ironclad assurances because the deal is a political understanding rather than a legally binding treaty.

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said on Wednesday he hoped to speak to Iranian officials on the investigation, but insisted that it would not simply disappear. Western diplomats have said they will not back down on this issue and it is up to Iran to make the right choice.

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Reporting by Parisa Hafezi and John Irish; Editing by Grant McCool

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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