IAEA chief calls for 'urgency' in Iran diplomacy

Diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis over Iran's nuclear activities need to be pursued with "urgency," the head of the UN atomic agency said today.

"The IAEA is firmly committed to dialogue," International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano said at the start of a two-day meeting of the UN body's board set to be dominated by Iran's programme.

"There is an opportunity to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue diplomatically. Now is the time for all of us to work with a sense of urgency and seize the opportunity for a diplomatic solution."

Many in the international community suspect that Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons, something Tehran vehemently denies, and multiple UN Security Council resolutions have called on it to suspend key parts.

The Persian Gulf country has also been subjected to four rounds of sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council, which in combination with additional Western restrictions have began to cause real problems for the Iranian economy this year.

Israel, the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear-armed state, has refused to rule out military action to stop its arch rival also getting the bomb.
Renewed diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis are gathering pace following a hiatus of several months caused in part by the lengthy US presidential election campaign won by Barack Obama on November 6.

The P5+1 powers -- the US, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany -- held a meeting in Brussels last week and said afterwards they want talks with Iran "as soon as possible." This may happen as soon as in December.

Parallel diplomatic efforts between the IAEA and Iran, focused on what the agency calls "overall, credible" evidence of past weapons research work, are meanwhile set to resume on December 13 in Tehran.

"It is now one year since I spelled out in detail the basis for the Agency's concerns about possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme," Amano said.
"In the meantime, Iran has continued to enrich uranium ... and has expanded its enrichment capacity, contrary to resolutions from the Agency's Board of Governors and of the UN Security Council."

He called for a "structured approach" to address the allegations that "should be agreed and implemented immediately, with concrete, tangible results."

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