World

Iran reaches deal with global nuclear watchdog for inspections

The International Atomic Energy Agency has struck a deal with Iran that will give its inspectors continued access to verify and monitor nuclear activity in the country for the next three months, potentially laying the ground work for Washington and Tehran to kick-start nuclear talks.

IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi said Sunday that the two sides had reached the temporary “technical understanding” following his trip to Iran, which had recently signaled plans to scale back cooperation with the global nuclear watchdog.

Iran announced last week it would stop implementing the IAEA’s additional protocol, effectively limiting which facilities nuclear inspectors could scrutinize and when they could access them, making it harder for experts to determine if Tehran is attempting to develop nuclear weapons.

The interim deal reached Sunday would alleviate the impact of Iran pulling out of the additional protocol, Grossi said. “What we agreed to is something that is viable, it’s useful to bridge this gap that we are having now, salvages the situation now,” he said.

Oil spill leads Israel to close beaches as it faces one of its ‘most severe ecological disasters’Israeli authorities are trying to locate the source of a suspected oil spill that has been described as one of the most severe ecological disasters to hit the country, threatening wildlife, forcing beaches to close and prompting a mass cleanup.

Blobs of sticky tar started washing up on the country’s Mediterranean shores last week. Images posted on official government accounts showed sea birds and turtles covered in tar and sticky oil.

“The enormous amounts of tar emitted in recent days to the shores of Israel from south to north caused one of the most severe ecological disasters to hit Israel,” the country’s Nature and Parks Authority said Sunday.

The extent of the pollution is so bad, Israel’s Ministry of Interior issued an advisory Sunday urging people to stay away from the country’s beaches.

A massive cleanup is underway but the Nature and Parks Authority said it would take a long time to make the marine area safe again. It has established a registration and information center for volunteers who wish to help.

“According to field assessments, it is evident that these complex and strenuous operations will be required to continue over a long period of time,” the Nature and Parks Authority said.

It warned that the spill had not yet been contained as tar continues to wash up on the country’s beaches.

“Out of 190 kilometers (119 miles) of beach in Israel, 170 kilometers (105 miles) were hit by the ecological disaster,” the authority said on its Facebook page Sunday.

— From wire reports

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