Iran warns against 'further erosion' of IAEA credibility after Grossi's Israel visit

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh

Taking strong exception to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief’s visit to Israel ahead of a key board meeting, Iran on Friday warned against “further erosion” of the UN agency’s credibility.

Foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh in a tweet late on Friday raised alarm over the UN nuclear body’s collusion with the Israeli regime hours after IAEA chief Rafael Grossi held talks with the Israeli regime’s hawkish premier Naftali Bennett in Tel Aviv.

“As one of the original signatories to NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty), Iran calls on all to beware of further erosion of the IAEA's credibility,” Khatibzadeh said.

The statement came after Grossi met with Bennett, followed by latter’s remarks that his regime was prepared to use force to stop Iran's nuclear program.

Grossi's whirlwind visit to Tel Aviv came in the backdrop of a report by IAEA alleging that Iran has "not clarified" the presence of nuclear material at three sites.

Khatibzadeh, pointing to the UN nuclear body’s blatant double standards, said the world powers cannot overlook Israel’s weapons program while indulging in rhetoric about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.

“No one can keep mum on Israel's clandestine nuclear weapons program and then claim impartiality and talk about Iran's peaceful nuclear activities,” he asserted.

Israeli regime has scaled up its vigorous campaign against a potential deal in Vienna, mounting pressure on the US administration through the influence-yielding Zionist lobby in Washington.

It has also been flouting conspiracy theories against Iran’s peaceful, energy-oriented nuclear program, to sidetrack attention from ongoing efforts to revive the 2015 accord.

Earlier this week, Bennett accused Iran of stealing classified documents from the IAEA and using them to deceive international inspectors nearly two decades ago. Iran rejected the allegations as outright lies.

Khatibzadeh, in a statement late on Wednesday, called the Israeli regime “the world's #1 JCPOA hater” which he said also “happens to be NPT-denier and the only nuke-possessor” of the region.

“We know this. The world knows this. Time for E3/US to stop pretending to be asleep. They can pursue diplomacy—or pursue the opposite. We're ready for both,” the spokesman said.

Israel, which possesses the largest number of nuclear warheads in the region, has never allowed IAEA inspectors to inspect its nuclear sites. It has also refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

On the other hand, Iran, despite being a signatory of the NPT, continues to reel under harsh sanctions for pursuing a peaceful nuclear program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s board of governors is scheduled to hold the meeting on Monday, with all eyes on the agency’s latest report.

The meeting is reportedly set to adopt an anti-Iran resolution, drafted by Britain, France, Germany, and the United States, to accuse the Islamic Republic of withholding cooperation with the agency.

Iran has previously cautioned the UN nuclear agency against allowing the Israeli regime to influence its independent mandate and decision-making.

The regime’s campaign aimed at incriminating Iran’s nuclear work comes while it continues to be the sole possessor of nuclear arms in the region, with a stockpile of hundreds of atomic warheads.

Due to the cover provided by the US and Europeans, the regime has always refused to open up its nuclear sites to IAEA inspectors and also refused to join the NPT.

Earlier on Friday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in a telephone call with the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell regretted Grossi’s trip to the occupied territories.

He said it was in clear contradiction with the agency’s principles of observing impartiality and maintaining its technical and professional integrity.

“Any political action by the United States and the three European countries in the IAEA will undoubtedly meet with a proportionate, effective, and immediate response from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said.

Speaking separately with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, the top Iranian diplomat denounced the US and three European countries over their “unconstructive” push for the anti-Iran resolution.

The move, Amir-Abdollahian said, would disrupt negotiations underway in Vienna between Iran and the world powers to salvage the landmark 2015 deal.

On Wednesday, Iran’s foreign ministry had warned that it would respond proportionately to any “unconstructive move” at the upcoming meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Norway's NRK on Thursday, Iran’s deputy foreign minister Ali Bagheri Kani reaffirmed the peaceful nature of the Islamic Republic's nuclear activities.

In response to a question about the Tel Aviv regime's possible act of aggression against Tehran, Bagheri Kani, who is also Iran's chief negotiator, said the Zionists “can only dream” of attacking Iran.

"And whenever they do have such a dream, they will never wake from it," the IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.

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