Iran has started discussing unresolved questions over whether the country has fully declared the contents of its nuclear programme, the acting International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Chief, Cornel Feruta, on Friday said.
Feruta had warned the Islamic Republic in early September that “time is of the essence” to clarify whether it has provided a complete picture of its nuclear activities, indicating that Tehran was stonewalling.
IAEA inspectors have found unexplained nuclear material in a secret Iranian warehouse in Turquzabad, Tehran, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who alerted the Vienna-based nuclear agency to this site in 2018.
Feruta said on Friday that Iran had apparently understood his message.
“We’ve been having a very active dialogue with Iran at both [a] technical and higher level in the past few weeks,” he said.
Although Iranian officials have been discussing the open questions in a substantive manner, the issues have not been resolved, Feruta cautioned.
“But it’s a step in the right direction.”
Feruta recently met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif in New York and the country’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi in Vienna.
Iran’s decision to engage with the IAEA came after weeks of heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington, which has accused Iran of attacking Saudi oil infrastructure, as well as ships near the strategically important Strait of Hormuz.
The tensions were triggered in 2018 when U.S. President Donald Trump said that his country would exit the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
Trump claimed that the pact could not prevent the country from building nuclear weapons. Trump also complained that the deal did not address Iran’s involvement in various Middle Eastern conflicts.
While the U.S. has revived sanctions that had originally been lifted under the 2015 deal, Iran has reacted in recent months by operating its nuclear programme beyond the strict limits that were set by the agreement.