The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is sending a delegation to Iran on December 18 over an inquiry into uranium traces at undeclared Iranian nuclear sites the nuclear watchdog has been pursuing for years.
“At the invitation of Iran, an IAEA technical team will be in Tehran on Sunday 18th December 2022 aiming at addressing the outstanding safeguards issues previously reported by IAEA Director General Grossi,” the IAEA said in a statement, according to CNBC.
While the uranium traces are not a proliferation risk, the IAEA has not been happy with Iran’s explanations and won’t close the case. For their part, Iranian officials have said the traces were planted by Israel, which has a history of covert operations targeting Iranian nuclear facilities.
The planned IAEA visit comes as there is virtually no hope the US and Iran will be resuming negotiations to revive the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA. Since talks stalled a few months ago, the US has ramped up sanctions on Iran, expressed support for protesters inside the country, and threatened military action.
President Biden’s special envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, said in a recent interview that the US would use a military option as a “last resort” to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. But the Pentagon just acknowledged in its new Nuclear Posture Review that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear bomb.
The US has also stepped up joint military drills with Israel and participated in exercises with Israeli aircraft that simulated attacking targets in Iran at the end of November.