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Iran Says Ready to Cooperate With IAEA, But 'Has Rights'

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FILE - In this photo released by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, technicians work at the Arak heavy water reactor's secondary circuit, as officials and media visit the site, near Arak, Iran, Dec. 23, 2019.

Iran expressed a readiness Monday to cooperate with the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, saying that while the country does have obligations, “it also has rights.”

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani told reporters that Iran "expects constructive actions" from the International Atomic Energy Agency and its governing board.

The board begins meetings Monday on a range of worldwide nuclear issues, including concerns about Iran’s program.

The IAEA has pushed Iran to provide credible answers about the presence of man-made uranium particles found at three undeclared sites in the country.

"What we've seen over the last week or so in Iran's response to the proposal put forward by the European Union is clearly a step backwards and makes the prospects for an agreement in the near term — I would say — unlikely," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday during a press conference in Mexico City.

"Iran seems either unwilling or unable to do what is necessary to reach an agreement, and they continue to try to introduce extraneous issues to the negotiation that make an agreement less likely," Blinken added.

Iran has sought an end to the probe as part of talks to revive the 2015 international agreement that gave the country sanctions relief in exchange for limitations on its nuclear activity amid concerns it was working to develop nuclear weapons.

Britain, France and Germany issued a joint statement Saturday expressing "serious doubts" about Iran's seriousness in the nuclear deal negotiations.

Kanaani on Monday called the statement "unconstructive."

The United States withdrew from the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in 2018 with President Donald Trump saying the agreement was too favorable toward Iran. Trump imposed new sanctions, and Iran responded by taking incremental steps away from its commitments under the deal, including enriching uranium to a higher level, holding larger stockpiles of enriched material and installing more advanced centrifuges.

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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