UN nuclear watchdog, Iranian officials meet in Vienna

BERLIN (AP) — The head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said he met with his Iranian counterpart in Vienna for talks about an ongoing investigation into manmade uranium particles found at undeclared sites in Iran.

“Dialogue has restarted with Iran on clarification of outstanding safeguards issues,” Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), tweeted Monday night.

He said he had met with Mohammad Eslami, vice president and head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization. Along with the statement, Grossi posted photos of himself, Eslami and other negotiators.

The IAEA has for years sought answers from Iran to its questions about the uranium particles. U.S. intelligence agencies, Western nations and the IAEA have said Iran ran an organized nuclear weapons program until 2003. Iran has long denied ever seeking nuclear weapons, maintaining that its nuclear program is peaceful.

The probe has been a sticking point in negotiations to revive the 2015 deal between the Islamic Republic and world powers. Iran’s hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi said in August that the IAEA’s investigation into the issue must be halted in order for Iran to recommit to the deal.

Earlier this month, a report from the IAEA to member states criticized Iran’s lack of engagement with the IAEA on the issue. Because Iranian leaders had not offered “credible” explanations for the presence of these particles, the report said the IAEA “is not in a position to provide assurance that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.”

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