IAEA chief calls for a new nuclear deal

IAEA chief calls for fresh nuclear deal between US and Iran
3 min read
17 December, 2020
IAEA chief Rafael Grossi says that that a new nuclear agreement between the US and Iran is needed to replace the abandoned 2015 JCPOA agreement.
Rafael Grossi says Iran and the US can't go back to the old deal [Getty]
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said that a new nuclear deal between Iran and the US will be needed, if the two sides agree to restart negotiations. 

According to Rafael Grossi, any new agreement will need to establish how Iran will reverse the steps it has taken since the Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 deal

Both the incoming Biden administration and the Iranian leadership have expressed their desire to restart the deal, with a reduction in nuclear activity in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, which continue to have a negative effect on the ailing Iranian economy. 

Speaking to Reuters, Grossi said that it would not be possible to revert to the original deal, considering the breaches that have occurred since the US walked away. “I cannot imagine that they are going simply to say, ‘We are back to square one’ because square one is no longer there."

He continued, “There is more [nuclear] material, ... there is more activity, there are more centrifuges, and more are being announced. So what happens with all this? This is the question for them at the political level to decide.”

According to the original deal, limits were set on the amount of enriched uranium that Iran could hold. Currently, Iran holds 2.4 tonnes, which is 12 times more than allowed by the deal, but still well below the eight tonnes that the country held before the signing in 2015. 

The purity of Iran’s enriched uranium has reached 4.5% , greater than the purity of 3.67% allowed in the original 2015 deal, but far below the 20% it achieved prior to that deal. 

In addition to exceeding limits, Iran has also been enriching uranium at sites that were prohibited by the 2015 deal, including at Fordow, a site dug into a mountain, and with advanced centrifuges at its underground plant at Natanz.

Read more: Is Iran's nuclear deal still viable?

Tehran has stated that if sanctions were lifted, then it could swiftly reverse steps taken since the deal fell apart. 

Rouahni told reporters, “I believe that the era of the economic war has come to an end. This war cannot go on, not because Trump has been defeated and Mr Biden has won. Even if Trump had won, he would be forced to do away with sanctions.”

Regarding a new deal, Grossi said, “What I see is that we’re moving full circle back to December 2015…“If they want to do it [comply], they could do it pretty fast. But for all of those things we had a charted course.”

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