VIENNA: Authorities in Iran have stripped key experts of their accreditation to inspect the country’s nuclear arsenal, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Saturday, reported dpa news agency.

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi slammed the move in an official press release, calling it “disproportionate and unprecedented.”

This “affects the normal planning and conduct of Agency verification activities in Iran and openly contradicts the cooperation that should exist between the Agency and Iran,“ he wrote from the agency’s headquarters in Vienna.

One inspector had already had his accreditation removed previously. Though the measure is formally permitted, Grossi criticised Iran for hampering the “ability of the IAEA to conduct effectively its inspections in Iran.”

“With today’s decision, Iran has effectively removed about one-third of the core group of the Agency’s most experienced inspectors designated for Iran,“ said Grossi. It was unclear what the total number of inspectors in the country currently is.

“This profoundly regrettable decision by Iran is another step in the wrong direction and constitutes an unnecessary blow to an already strained relationship between the IAEA and Iran,“ added Grossi. He called on the country to reconsider its decision.

In 2015, Teheran signed a nuclear agreement to drastically restrict the enrichment of uranium and allow strict IAEA checks. The move was intended to curtail nuclear weapons in the country.

After the United States pulled out of the agreement in 2018 under then-president Donald Trump, Tehran began enriching uranium to near-weapons-grade purity and restricting IAEA inspections. - Bernama

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