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The head of the UN's nuclear watchdog hailed an agreement struck with Iran on Sunday over access to surveillance equipment at Iranian nuclear facilities, saying it allowed space for diplomatic talks.
"This has always been seen, for me at least, as a stopgap, as a measure to allow time for diplomacy," International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi 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.
"IAEA's inspectors are permitted to service the identified equipment and replace their storage media, which will be kept under the joint IAEA and (Iran's) AEOI seals in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The way and the timing are agreed by the two sides," they had said in a joint statement.
Grossi travelled to Iran on Saturday for talks, days after the IAEA had criticised Tehran in a report for a lack of cooperation.
On Sunday, he met the chief of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Mohammad Eslami.
"The two sides decided to maintain their mutual interactions and meetings at relevant levels," the statement said, adding Grossi planned another visit to Tehran "in the near future".
The IAEA chief said the agreement on servicing the agency's equipment would be put into practice "within a few days, very soon".
He added that thanks to the agreement the agency will "be able to keep the information needed to maintain continuity of knowledge" of Iran's programme.
However, access to the information recorded by the equipment will have to wait for agreement at talks on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, also known as the JCPOA.
"The reconstruction, the coming together of the jigsaw puzzle will come when there is an agreement at the JCPOA level," Grossi said.
Grossi's visit comes after talks between major world powers to save Iran's nuclear deal have become deadlocked.
The 2015 deal promised Tehran sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.
But the landmark agreement was torpedoed in 2018 by then US president Donald Trump's unilateral decision to withdraw Washington from it and impose a punishing sanctions regime.
Iran has since stepped away from many of its commitments, but the administration of US President Joe Biden has advocated a return to diplomacy to save the agreement.
A point of contention this year has been limits Iran has imposed on the IAEA's ability to monitor various of its nuclear facilities.
Iran has refused to provide real-time footage from cameras and other surveillance tools that the UN agency has installed in these locations.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)