NEW YORK: Iran has no issue with the UN nuclear watchdog’s inspection of its nuclear sites, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Wednesday, days after Tehran barred multiple inspectors assigned to the country.
“We have no problem with the inspections but the problem is with some inspectors ... those inspectors that are trustworthy can continue their work in Iran,” Raisi told a press conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Iran’s move was a response to a call led by the United States, Britain, France and Germany at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Board of Governors earlier this month for Tehran to cooperate immediately with the agency on issues including explaining uranium traces found at undeclared sites.
“Tehran’s decision was in reaction to some unfair statements by the Western members of the IAEA,” Raisi said.
UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi has condemned Iran’s “disproportionate and unprecedented” move.
Tehran’s move, known as “de-designation” of inspectors, is allowed; member states can generally veto inspectors assigned to visit their nuclear facilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and each country’s safeguards agreement with the agency governing inspections.
In a separate statement, the Iranian president said the meeting of Iranian and Egyptian foreign ministers in New York could pave the way for a restoration of ties.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran does not see any obstacle in establishing relations with Egypt, and this issue has been announced to the Egyptian side as well,” Raisi told a press conference at the end of his trip to New York for the United Nations leaders meeting, according to the website of the Iranian presidency.
“Today’s meeting of the foreign ministers of the two countries can also be a chapter to start and revive relations between the two countries.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry received his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian at the headquarters of Egypt’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.
Amirabdollahian said strengthening relations “will serve common interests” while Shoukry underlined the importance of cooperating with all countries in the region in the face of ongoing instability.
“In order to strengthen relations with neighboring, Muslim, and aligned countries, the Islamic Republic of Iran will extend its hand to any country that want to cooperate with us,” Raisi added.
Relations between Egypt and Iran have generally been fraught in recent decades although the two countries have maintained diplomatic contacts.
Some Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt, have taken steps to ease regional tensions in recent months.
Egypt’s Sunni Muslim Arab ally Saudi Arabia and Iran restored diplomatic relations earlier this year while Cairo has mended a rift with Qatar and re-established ties with Turkiye.