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UN Nuclear Agency, Iran to Hold Talks to ‘Clarify’ Issues 

FILE - An Iranian flag flutters in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria, Sept. 9, 2019.

The U.N. nuclear monitoring agency said Thursday it reached an agreement with Iran to hold talks next month in Tehran to “clarify a number of outstanding issues,” such as the presence of uranium particles at undeclared sites.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Grossi told reporters the meetings are an attempt to more directly get answers after earlier talks through the exchanges of letters and messages yielded little progress.

“Either you continue with this merry-go-round that can last for a long time, or you try something else,” Grossi said. “And what I said to our Iranian counterparts in Tehran was that I felt we needed to try to discuss this in a different way.”

Grossi said his goal is to have a “far more clear understanding” and be able to report to the IAEA’s board of governors when it next meets in June.

“If there is goodwill, I’m sure we will be able to be in a much better place,” he said.

The United States told the board of governors meeting Thursday that Iran must fully cooperate with the IAEA to resolve questions about nuclear materials at undeclared sites in order to show the international community that its nuclear program is peaceful.

“Iran has now been given another opportunity by the director general to offer up the necessary cooperation before this board next meets. We will be watching closely for a constructive Iranian response that enables the substantive progress,” said Louis Bono, chargé d’affaires of the U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna.

In 2015, the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany reached an agreement with Iran to limit its nuclear program to prevent it from being able to develop nuclear weapons. Iran, which has said its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes, was given sanctions relief in return.

Since the United States withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and reimposed sanctions, Iran has taken steps that go against its commitments, including breaching limits on the amount of enriched uranium it is allowed to stockpile and enriching the material to a higher level than allowed. Iran has said its moves are reversible and has sought relief from the U.S. sanctions.

Both Iran and the United States have expressed a willingness to return to the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, since the election of U.S. President Joe Biden in November. However, both sides have also called for the other to fulfill its commitments first before taking action.