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Iran tensions

Iran strikes deal with IAEA on nuclear inspectors' access to sites

Agreement reached on dates and parameters of 'verification activities'

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the country remains ready to cooperate with the IAEA, according to state media.   © Reuters

DUBAI/VIENNA (Reuters) -- Iran said on Wednesday it had agreed to grant the U.N. nuclear watchdog access to two sites that the agency suspects once secretly hosted nuclear material or activities, easing a months-long standoff over the issue.

Wednesday's breakthrough in the dispute over the sites near Karaj and Isfahan was announced in a joint statement by Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency during a rare visit to Tehran by IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi.

U.S. intelligence services and the IAEA believe Iran had a clandestine nuclear weapons programme that it halted in 2003 for fear of discovery. The Islamic Republic has long denied seeking to develop atomic bombs.

"Iran is voluntarily providing the IAEA with access to the two locations specified by the IAEA," Grossi and Iran's nuclear agency chief Ali Akbar Salehi said in a joint statement, confirming an earlier report by Reuters.

"The IAEA does not have any further questions to Iran and further requests for access to locations other than those declared by Tehran," the statement said.

It said dates for IAEA inspectors to visit the sites had been agreed, without naming them, as well as the parameters of "verification activities" there.

Grossi arrived in Tehran on Monday to press for access to the two sites, which the IAEA suspects could still host undeclared nuclear material, or traces of it.

Iran said Grossi's visit was unrelated to a U.S. move last week at the U.N. Security Council to reinstate U.N. sanctions against Tehran lifted under its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, from which the United States has withdrawn.

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