Rafael Grossi
Rafael GrossiReuters

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi on Sunday hailed an agreement struck with Iran over access to surveillance equipment at Iranian nuclear facilities, saying it allowed space for diplomatic talks, AFP reports.

"This has always been seen, for me at least, as a stopgap, as a measure to allow time for diplomacy," Grossi was quoted as having told reporters at Vienna airport after returning from talks in Iran.

Iran and the IAEA had earlier announced that they had agreed to allow inspectors to service the agency's surveillance equipment as Tehran has restricted access since earlier this year.

Grossi flew to Tehran for talks aimed at easing a standoff between Iran and the West over talks on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

He later said the agreement on servicing the agency's equipment would be put into practice "within a few days, very soon".

Grossi added that thanks to the agreement the agency will "be able to keep the information needed to maintain continuity of knowledge" of Iran's program.

Grossi’s visit followed an IAEA report published earlier this week and which criticized Iran for stonewalling an investigation into its past nuclear activities and jeopardizing important monitoring work.

The report said, according to the Reuters news agency, that there had been no progress on two central issues: explaining uranium traces found at several old, undeclared sites and getting urgent access to some monitoring equipment so that the agency can continue to keep track of parts of Iran's nuclear program.

Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal in response to former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018, though it has been holding indirect talks with the US on a return to the agreement.

The negotiations were adjourned on June 20, two days after Ebrahim Raisi won Iran's presidential election, and no date has been set for a resumption of dialogue.

The European parties to the 2015 deal - Britain, France and Germany - held a meeting with the United States in Paris on Friday to discuss how to react at the IAEA board and to review options if Iran continues to stall on returning to negotiations, according to Reuters. Diplomats said no decisions had been taken as of yet.

On Friday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called for an international response to the damning IAEA report on Iran.

Bennett said that "Israel takes the situation reflected in the report very seriously and will do everything in its power to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons."

"I call for an appropriate and swift international response," the Prime Minister stated.

Later on Friday, the spokesperson of Iran’s Foreign Ministry responded to Bennett and tweeted, “Outlaw Israeli regime—sitting on illicit nukes & refusing to join NPT—again threatens NPT member Iran; a nation w world's most inspected nuclear program.”

“The West's darling is a habitual extorter. But world has woken up to its destabilizing nature. Iran reserves right to respond,” he added.