Iran’s president said on Monday that reviving a 2015 atomic deal with world powers would be pointless unless the UN’s nuclear watchdog ends its probe into undeclared sites in the country.

Ebrahim Raisi’s comments came as Tehran considered the US response to his suggestions on a “final” text proposed by the EU to salvage the landmark deal.

The United States had insisted that Tehran cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to dispel suspicions about previous work at three undeclared sites.

“In the negotiations, safeguard issues are one of the fundamental issues. All safeguard issues must be resolved,” Raisi told reporters at a press conference in the capital Tehran.

“Without resolving the backup issues, talking about the deal is meaningless,” he added.

The IAEA has called traces of nuclear material a “safeguards” problem.

Iran has repeatedly urged the agency to end the issue before any renewed deal is implemented, but US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said on Thursday “we don’t believe it should be “conditionality” between the agreement and the undeclared sites.

In June, the IAEA’s board of governors passed a resolution blaming Iran for failing to adequately explain the earlier discovery of traces of enriched uranium at three sites not declared by Tehran to have hosted nuclear activities .

Last week, amid growing hopes of a revived deal, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi in an interview with CNN dismissed the idea of ​​the agency closing its investigation without receiving answers.

“This idea that politically we are going to stop doing our job is unacceptable to us,” he said. “So far, Iran has not given us the technically credible explanations we need.”

In his latest report to IAEA member states on the implementation of the 2015 agreement, Grossi said on Monday that Iran had started enriching uranium in one of three centrifuge cascades recently installed in Nathanz.

The deal between Iran and six world powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – granted the Islamic Republic sanctions relief in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.

– No plans to meet Biden –

Since taking office in 2021, President Joe Biden has sought to bring the United States back to the deal unilaterally abandoned by his predecessor Donald Trump in 2018.

The talks in Vienna, which began in April last year, aim to bring Washington back to the nuclear pact, including lifting sanctions against Iran, and to bring Tehran back to full compliance with its commitments.

Indirect negotiations between Tehran and Washington have so far been mediated by the European Union.

Raisi reiterated his opposition to meeting with Biden at the United Nations General Assembly next month.

“There is no advantage to a meeting between me and him… There is no plan for such a meeting and there will not be,” he added.

Israel, Iran’s sworn enemy, pushed its ally the United States and other Western countries to halt nuclear talks with Tehran.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said any new deal with Tehran should include an expiry date and stricter oversight that “would also address Iran’s ballistic missile program”.

“We can reach such an agreement if a credible military threat is put on the table,” Lapid added.

Raisi said Israel’s actions, including the “assassination of (Iranian) nuclear scientists” and “acts of sabotage” against nuclear facilities, could “not stop” Iran’s nuclear program.

He also warned Israel that it “may not have time to act if it decides to do something” against Iran.

The 2015 agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was aimed at preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, which it has always denied wanting to do.

“Nuclear weapons have no place in our defense doctrine,” Raisi stressed.

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