UN nuclear watchdog eyes deal with Iran

The UN nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday it hoped to gain access to the Parchin military site during a visit to Iran this week aimed at unblocking an investigation into suspected atom bomb research in the Islamic state.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will seek to finalise a framework deal with Iran during Wednesday’s talks in Tehran that would enable it to relaunch its inquiry, IAEA Deputy Director General Herman Nackaerts said.

“We are approaching these talks in a constructive spirit ... and we trust that Iran will work with us in the same spirit,” he said at Vienna airport before his team departed for Tehran for a new round of what have been long-fruitless negotiations.

World powers striving to resolve a decade-old dispute over Iran’s atomic work and avert the threat of a new Middle East war will scrutinise the IAEA-Iran talks for any indication of an Iranian readiness to finally start addressing their concerns.

Uncertainty reigns over when the powers — the United States, France, Germany, China, Russia and Britain — and Iran will resume their separate negotiations aimed at finding a broader diplomatic solution.

Israel — a US ally believed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal — has threatened military action if diplomacy and economic sanctions intended to curb Iran’s uranium enrichment programme do not resolve the stand-off.

Iran, a major oil producer and exporter, says its nuclear work is an entirely peaceful project to generate an alternative source of energy for a rapidly expanding population.
The IAEA, whose mission it is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in the world, has been trying for a year to negotiate a so-called structured approach with Tehran that would give it access to sites, officials and documents in Iran.

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