November 17, 2014 / 4:58 PM / 3 years ago

U.S. 'disappointed' with Iran's IAEA cooperation ahead of nuclear talks

VIENNA (Reuters) - The United States is disappointed with Iran’s failure to engage with a U.N. nuclear agency investigation into suspected atomic bomb research, a U.S. envoy said on Monday.

(L-R) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are photographed as they participate in a trilateral meeting in Vienna in this October 15, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Carolyn Kaster/Pool/Files

Western officials say Iran must improve cooperation with the long-running International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inquiry as part of a broader diplomatic settlement which Tehran and six world powers aim to reach by a self-imposed Nov. 24 deadline.

Negotiators from Iran, the United States, France, China, Russia, Britain, Germany and the European Union meet in Vienna from Tuesday to try to end a long impasse over Tehran’s atomic program that has stoked fears of a new war in the Middle East.

Potentially complicating those efforts, an IAEA report on Nov. 7 said Iran was failing to address suspicions it may have worked on designing an atomic bomb. Iran says it has no such aim and that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.

“We’ve been disappointed in their failure thus far to constructively engage on this issue,” Ambassador Laura Kennedy, the U.S. envoy to the Vienna-based IAEA, told reporters.

Kennedy said she would convey “our concerns with Iran’s failure to engage substantively with the agency on the possible military dimensions issue” in a statement to the IAEA’s 35-nation Board of Governors, which convenes on Thursday.

While the powers want Iran to curb its uranium enrichment program, and thereby lengthen the timeline for any covert attempt to assemble nuclear arms, the IAEA is investigating allegations of past research on how to make a bomb itself.

Even though it has long been clear that the IAEA’s inquiry will not be completed before the target date for a deal with the powers, Western diplomats had hoped for more progress by now.

Reporting by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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