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Iran Warns of Response to IAEA 'Unconstructive Actions'


FILE - Iran's national flag flutters in the wind as the Milad telecommunications tower and buildings are seen in the background, in Tehran, Iran, March 31, 2020.

Iran warned Wednesday it would respond to any "unconstructive actions" taken by the U.N. atomic watchdog after the agency reported traces of nuclear material at undeclared sites in the Islamic republic.

Iran and the U.N. agency agreed in March on an approach to resolve the issue of the nuclear material found at Marivan, Varamin and Turquzabad, sites that had not been declared by Iran as having hosted nuclear activities.

But in a report on Monday the International Atomic Energy Agency said it still had questions that were "not clarified" despite long-running efforts to get Iran to explain the presence of the nuclear material.

The IAEA board of governors is to hold a meeting on Monday for which Britain, France, Germany and the U.S. have prepared a draft resolution "calling on Iran to cooperate on the question of undeclared sites," according to a European diplomatic source.

"We will respond firmly and appropriately to any unconstructive action at the board of governors," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement.

"The responsibility for its consequences falls on the shoulders of those who see the board of governors and the director-general's report as leverage and a tool of political games against Iran," he added.

The issue is one of the remaining obstacles to reviving a 2015 deal that gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for guarantees that the Islamic republic is unable to develop a nuclear weapon, something it has always denied wanting to do.

The agreement, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was torpedoed in 2018 by the administration of then U.S. president Donald Trump, which withdrew unilaterally and imposed sanctions on Iran.

In a tweet on Wednesday evening, Khatibzadeh said Israel, the Islamic republic's archenemy that also strongly opposes the nuclear deal, was the "only nuke-possessor of the MENA region." He used the acronym for Middle East North Africa region.

"Time for E3/US to stop pretending to be asleep," he said, referring to the three European nations and the United States.

"They can pursue diplomacy -- or pursue the opposite. We're ready for both," he added.

Tehran has condemned the U.N. watchdog's report as "not fair and balanced," saying it "does not reflect the reality of the negotiations between Iran and the IAEA."

France had called on Iran to respond promptly to the IAEA's requests.

"We are consulting closely with our partners on how to respond to this situation at the next board of governors meeting," its foreign ministry said.

Khatibzadeh called on "countries such as France to refrain from taking positions and making interventions that would cause the cooperation to deviate from its proper path."

These statements were aimed at putting "pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran on the eve of the meetings of the IAEA board of governors," he added.

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