According to an IAEA report obtained by Reuters on Thursday, Iran has agreed to a visit by the U.N. nuclear watchdog this month to begin providing the agency and its 35-nation board with the information they have long demanded regarding the source of uranium particles discovered at three sites.
Iran has not yet provided any fresh information, meanwhile, and the offer came ahead of the IAEA Board of Governors’ quarterly meeting next week, where officials say they anticipate Western powers to press for a resolution urging Iran to cooperate—a step that Tehran typically rebuffs.
Many diplomats see Iran’s offer as a thinly veiled attempt to reduce support for another resolution after a similar one was passed in June, though in the absence of tangible progress there is little to suggest Tehran’s move would scupper a push to formally criticize it at the board.
“(IAEA chief Rafael Grossi) takes note of Iran’s proposal to hold a further technical meeting with senior Agency officials in Tehran before the end of the month, but stresses that this meeting should be aimed at effectively clarifying and resolving those issues,” one of two confidential IAEA reports on Iran sent to member states on Thursday ahead of the board meeting said.
The issue has become an obstacle in wider talks to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, since Tehran has demanded a closure of the IAEA’s investigation in those talks.
The IAEA has said it will not yield to political pressure and its job is to account for all nuclear material. The fact material that has not been accounted for appears to have been present at these sites is therefore an issue it must keep looking into until it is resolved.
“You can see the pattern of Iran is always similar. Every board there is something they try to do just before the board. Historically you see a pattern,” the senior diplomat said when asked about the planned meeting in Tehran, pointing to previous meetings and offers preceding Board of Governors sessions.
Diplomats said Britain, France, Germany, known as the E3, and the United States planned to press ahead with another resolution.
One diplomat said that Iran’s latest overtures were unlikely to change that stance. The latest resolution would aim to garner more support from board members than in June, while being tougher given Iran’s ongoing non-compliance, the diplomat said.
The E3 and the United States will hold talks in Paris on Monday to discuss Iran ahead of the board meeting, two diplomats said. The State Department did not immediately respond to request for comment.