U.N. nuclear agency head visits Iran amid US sanctions push

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The head of the U.N.’s atomic watchdog agency arrived in Iran on Monday to press for access to sites where authorities are thought to have stored or used undeclared nuclear material.

The visit comes as the U.S. is pushing to “snapback” U.N. sanctions on Iran for allegedly violating its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from more than two years ago.

Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, the other signatories to the deal, have declared the U.S. action illegal, saying it can’t withdraw from a deal and then use the U.N. resolution that endorsed it to re-impose sanctions.

Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, will meet with Iranian officials on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The IAEA repeatedly found Iran in compliance with the agreement until last year, when Tehran started openly exceeding some of the deal’s limits on nuclear enrichment in response to heavy U.S. sanctions.

Iran has said the U.N. official’s visit is an opportunity for greater cooperation and has nothing to do with the U.S. push for more sanctions.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for Iran’s atomic agency, said Sunday that the U.N. is seeking access to two sites, one near the capital and the other near the central city of Isfahan. He did not say whether Iran would grant access.

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