Iran, U.N. nuclear agency end talks; no word on site visit
DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran said progress was made in Thursday's talks in Tehran with senior U.N. nuclear inspectors but gave no details other than they would meet again in mid-January.
There was no immediate comment from the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about the one-day meeting over Iran's disputed nuclear program, and no sign its inspectors would gain access to the Parchin military complex as requested.
The agency believes Iran has conducted explosives tests with possible nuclear applications at Parchin, a sprawling facility southeast of Tehran, and has repeatedly asked for access.
The talks were the first between the U.N. agency and Iran since August and the outcome could give some indication whether Iran - which denies it wants to develop atom bombs - is any more willing to address international concerns over its nuclear work after U.S. President Barack Obama's re-election last month.
In the latest sign of how Washington is ratcheting up the pressure on Iran, the United States imposed sanctions on Thursday on seven companies and five individuals that it said provided support to the Islamic state's nuclear program.
The U.S. Treasury Department said the action would bar those companies and individuals from doing business with U.S. firms or citizens, and freeze any assets they have in the United States.
U.S. ally Israel - believed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal - has threatened military action if diplomacy and economic sanctions intended to halt Iran's uranium enrichment activities fail to resolve the long-standing dispute.
After previous rounds of talks between the U.N. agency and Iran this year - which did not yield any breakthrough on a long-stalled IAEA investigation into suspected atom bomb research - the two sides often gave different versions of events.
One Western diplomat in Vienna, commenting on the Iranian media reports, said on Thursday one of the IAEA's main goals in this week's talks had been to visit Parchin and this did not appear to have been achieved. Continued...