Nuclear watchdog reports improved cooperation with Iran

Nuclear watchdog reports improved cooperation with Iran
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The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Friday said Iranian officials have increased their cooperation with the United Nations agency after the organization raised questions reportedly related to traces of uranium found at an undeclared site.

Reuters reported that the IAEA's acting chief said progress being made between Iran's government and U.N. officials was a "step in the right direction."

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“Some engagement is ongoing, and this engagement is currently taking place,” acting IAEA chief Cornel Feruta said, adding, “This is an ongoing process ... I cannot prejudge how this is going to end. The engagement doesn’t mean that the issues are completely addressed, but it’s a step in the right direction."

The IAEA is responsible for judging whether a facility Iran's government claims was used for carpet-cleaning was actually a secret nuclear facility as alleged by Israel's prime minister, Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE. Iran's government has also been accused for weeks of stonewalling IAEA inspectors attempting to examine environmental samples of the facility.

The status of Iran's nuclear program is a controversial topic and led to the Trump administration abandoning a 2015 nuclear agreement signed by the U.S. and Iran, claiming that the Iranian government had forsaken the spirit and letter of the agreement.

Iran has denied that it violated the agreement prior to the U.S.'s exit, and has refused to negotiate with the Trump administration following the president's decision. Its government has also warned European nations still bound to the deal that Iran will abandon the agreement and ramp up uranium enrichment if Iran is not allowed access to the global economy.

The U.S. and Iran, meanwhile, have seen significantly increased tensions for weeks following the destruction of a U.S. surveillance drone and other attacks in the region blamed on Iranian forces, including the destruction of oil tankers and Saudi oil facilities.