Photo Credit: D. Calma/IAEA
International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi delivers opening remarks to the IAEA Board of Governors meeting on March 9, 2020.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke Thursday with the director-general of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Mariano Grossi, on the eve of his scheduled visit to Tehran this Saturday (March 5).

“Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi will travel to Tehran for meetings with senior Iranian officials on Saturday,” a spokesperson for the UN nuclear watchdog said in a statement.

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According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, the prime minister emphasized Israel’s positions regarding the nuclear talks in Vienna, as well as the situation regarding the open cases in the IAEA that deal with the Iranian weapons program.

Bennett also emphasized Israel’s expectation that the IAEA will act as a professional and impartial supervisory body, the PMO said, adding that the two men agreed to stay in regular contact.

Grossi said Wednesday that the agency will “never abandon” its attempt to get Iran to clarify the presence of nuclear material discovered at undeclared sites in the country several years ago.

The IAEA estimated in a report to member nations on Thursday that Iran has doubled its stockpile of 60 percent enriched uranium to 33 kilograms, bringing the total stockpile to 3,197 kilograms, although exact estimates were impossible due to Iranian restrictions on inspectors.

Uranium enriched to 60 percent is just a single step to being used to make nuclear weapons.

Iran is demanding a closure of the probe before agreeing to ink a new nuclear deal with world powers, as talks continue in Vienna.

An IAEA spokesperson said Grossi will hold a news conference upon his return to Vienna late Saturday night.

Representatives from Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany have been meeting with Iranian envoys over the past year in an effort to renew the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) signed in 2015, together with the United States. US envoys are participating indirectly in the talks at the insistence of Iran, which remains at odds with Washington over its withdrawal from the JCPOA in 2018.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on March 2 urged Iran to move quickly to resolve any remaining issues, saying a decision “must not be postponed any longer and cannot be postponed any longer.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.