The United States is threatening to escalate with Iran at the IAEA next month

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VIENNA (Reuters) – The United States on Thursday threatened to confront Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency next month if it no longer cooperates with the watchdog – an escalation that could undermine talks to revive a 2015 superpower agreement with Iran.

Tehran is locked in several distances with IAEA, whose Board for 35 nations holds a quarterly meeting this week.

Then-President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the 2015 agreement that lifted sanctions in exchange for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities. He reintroduced weakening sanctions, after which Tehran gradually expanded its nuclear work and reduced cooperation with the IAEA.

Iran denies IAEA access to reinstall surveillance cameras at a workshop at TESA Karaj- the complex. The IAEA also wants answers to the origins of uranium particles found in apparently old but undeclared sites, and says Iran continues to subject its inspectors to “excessively invasive physical searches.”

“If Iran’s lack of cooperation is not remedied immediately … the board will have no choice but to reconvene in an extraordinary session before the end of this year to address the crisis,” a statement from the United States said.

It said it was “specifically” aimed at reinstalling IAEA cameras at the Karaj workshop, which manufactures parts for advanced uranium-enriching centrifuges.

That workshop was hit by a blatant sabotage in June, which Iran says was an attack by its arch-enemy Israel.

One of four IAEA cameras installed there was destroyed and its images are missing. Iran removed all cameras after the incident. Israel has not commented on the incident.

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said on Wednesday that he did not know if the workshop was operational again, and that the time was running out to reach an agreement.

An extra board meeting would most likely aim to adopt a resolution against Iran, a diplomatic escalation that is likely to antagonize Tehran.

It could jeopardize indirect talks between Iran and the United States revive the 2015 deal, which is set to resume on Monday.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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