Vienna International Centre, where IAEA offices are located
Vienna International Centre, where IAEA offices are locatediStock

Iran on Thursday directly acknowledged an accusation from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors that it enriched uranium to 84 percent purity for the first time, placing it closer than ever to weapons-grade material, The Associated Press reported.

The acknowledgement came from Iran's Nour News, a website linked to Iran's Supreme National Security Council, overseen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The report followed days of muddled comments by Iran not directly acknowledging the accusation, first reported by Bloomberg. The spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Behruz Kamalvandi, on Monday described the Bloomberg report as "slander" and a "distortion of the facts", adding that "the presence of a particle or particles of uranium above 60 percent in the enrichment process does not mean enrichment above 60 percent."

In its comments Thursday, Nour News urged the IAEA to "not fall prey to the seduction of Western countries" and declare that Iran's nuclear program was "completely peaceful."

"It will be clear soon that the IAEA surprising report of discovering 84 per cent enriched uranium particles in Iran's enrichment facilities was an inspector's error or was a deliberate action to create political atmospheres against Iran on the eve of the meeting of" its board, Nour News said on Twitter.

The IAEA did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday over Nour News' remarks.

The discovery of the uranium comes as talks between Iran and world powers on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal remain stalled.

Former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in 2018, and Iran responded by scaling back its compliance with the agreement.

The Biden administration sought to return to the deal and held indirect talks with Iran on a return to compliance.

Those talks have been stalled since September, when Iran announced it had submitted its comments to the US response to the European Union’s draft for reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

While Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said at the time that Iran’s response was prepared based on a constructive approach, a senior Biden administration official said the Iranian response "is not at all encouraging.”

A US official later said that the efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal have “hit a wall” because of Iran's insistence on the closure of the UN nuclear watchdog's investigations.

Last month, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi warned that Tehran has amassed enough material for “several nuclear weapons”, though he added that Iran has not yet built a nuclear weapon and the West should redouble efforts to stop it from doing so.