U.N. nuclear watchdog eyes Iran deal, Parchin visit

Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:02am EST
 

By Fredrik Dahl

VIENNA (Reuters) - The U.N. 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 will seek to finalize a framework deal with Iran in 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 scrutinize 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 U.S. 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 program 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.   Continued...

 
Herman Nackaerts, head of a delegation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) speaks to media before his departure for Iran from the airport in Vienna January 15, 2013. REUTERS/Herwig Prammer