VIENNA (AP) — Iran has slowed the pace at which it is enriching uranium to nearly weapons-grade levels, according to a report by the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog seen by The Associated Press on Monday. That could be a sign Tehran is trying to ease tensions after years of strain between it and the U.S.
The confidential report comes as Iran and the United States are negotiating a prisoner swap and the release of billions of dollars in Iranian assets frozen in South Korea. However, international inspectors also noted new challenges in trying to monitor Iran’s program.
In an effort to ensure Iran could not develop atomic weapons, world powers struck a deal with Tehran in 2015 under which it agreed to limit enrichment of uranium to levels necessary for nuclear power in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. U.N. inspectors were tasked with monitoring the program.
Then-President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the U.S. out of the accord in 2018, saying he would negotiate a stronger deal, but that didn’t happen. Iran began breaking the terms a year later. …