The United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany called on Tehran to “immediately reverse” its decision to withdraw accreditation from UN inspectors, while the UN nuclear chief said he had asked to meet Iran’s president on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York to discuss the matter.
"Iran must immediately reverse these inspector de-designations and fully cooperate with the Agency to enable them to provide assurances that Iran's nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful," the US, UK, French and German permanent representatives to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a joint statement on September 18.
The four countries "will continue to stand in strong support of the IAEA and the international safeguards verification regime on which the world's security relies," it added.
Last week, the Vienna-based IAEA warned that the "disproportionate and unprecedented" move to bar inspectors would seriously hamper its work in Iran.
Iranian media said the decision concerned eight inspectors, all from France and Germany.
In an interview with The Associated Press on September 18, IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi said he had asked to meet with President Ebrahim Raisi in New York this week to try to reverse Tehran’s ban on “a very sizable chunk” of the agency’s inspectors.
Grossi said he had written to Raisi telling him it is “very important” to meet about Tehran’s targeting of inspectors, including “some of the best and most experienced.”
“I’m waiting for an answer,” he added.
The IAEA chief also stressed that the Iranian government’s removal of many agency cameras and electronic monitoring systems installed by the IAEA also make it impossible to give assurances about the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
In 2015, the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany reached an agreement with the Islamic Republic under which it would curb its nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling economic sanctions.
But in 2018 then-US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal and reimposed sanctions.
Tehran in turn stepped up its nuclear program, while continuing to claim that it harbors no ambitions of developing nuclear weapons capability.
Efforts to revive the nuclear accord have been fruitless so far.