Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi, in a file photo. Image Credit: REUTERS

DUBAI: UN nuclear watchdog officials will visit Iran in the coming days, Tehran’s nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami said on Wednesday, to try to end an impasse over traces of uranium found at Iranian undeclared sites.

“We hope the visit of the International Atomic Energy officials to Tehran in the coming days can help resolving issues with the agency,” Eslami told state TV.

The issue has been an obstacle to progress in wider talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with major powers to curb its disputed uranium enrichment programme in return for lifting sanctions imposed by Washington after exiting the pact in 2018.

The UN’s Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, has for months been calling on Iran to explain the presence of nuclear material at three undeclared sites.

The issue has frustrated efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that has been on life support since the United States unilaterally withdrew from it in 2018 under then-president Donald Trump.

“Agency officials will visit Tehran in the coming days,” Eslami said.

“Our interactions with the agency are ongoing and we hope that we can make effective progress with the agency in order to resolve the obstacles and ambiguities and take a step forward,” he added.

An IAEA delegation had planned to travel to Tehran last month, but the visit did not take place after the agency’s board of governors deplored Iran’s lack of cooperation in providing “technically credible” answers.

As a result, the agency said it was unable to guarantee the authenticity and integrity of Iran’s nuclear programme.

On Friday, Eslami said traces of enriched uranium found in Iran were brought into the country from abroad.

The 2015 agreement gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme to guarantee that Tehran could not develop a nuclear weapon - something it has always denied seeking to do.