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Iran is refusing to allow inspectors access to nuclear-related sites and hindering a probe by the United Nations atomic agency while continuing to expand its nuclear activities, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in two confidential reports Tuesday, casting doubt on efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

The reports leave the Biden administration and its European allies facing a choice between pushing for a formal rebuke of Iran—which Tehran’s new hard-line government has warned could scuttle the resumption of nuclear talks—or refraining from action, potentially undercutting the authority of the IAEA and its leadership.

The future of the nuclear deal is already in the balance. New Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, pressed by European and U.S. officials to quickly resume the talks on restoring the deal, has said his government is prepared to return to the Vienna negotiations but refused to fix a date. The last talks took place in June.

European and U.S. officials have said the period for reviving the nuclear deal isn’t open-ended. They are concerned that with Iran expanding its nuclear activities and knowledge, it may soon be impossible to recreate a centerpiece of the 2015 deal, keeping Iran at least one year from being able to accumulate enough weapons-grade enriched uranium for one weapon.

Senior U.S. and European negotiators will meet Friday to discuss the situation, according to diplomats. The State Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the IAEA’s findings or the international diplomatic response.

The U.S. exited the nuclear deal under former President Donald Trump in May 2018 and imposed sweeping sanctions on Tehran. Iran later took steps to breach the limits written into the 2015 agreement, which had lifted most international sanctions on Tehran in exchange for strict but temporary limits on Iran’s nuclear activities.

Iranian officials have warned that action against Iran at the IAEA board could kill off nuclear negotiations completely. The tight international sanctions campaign against Iran, which ran from 2006 until the nuclear deal in 2015, was built around censures of Iran at the IAEA board that were then escalated to the U.N. Security Council.

 

 

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text

 

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