UN's nuclear watchdog chief Yukiya Amano to visit Tehran for talks

Nuclear watchdog is concerned at Iran's lack of transparency ahead of key deadline

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 August, 2014, 1:25am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 August, 2014, 1:25am

UN nuclear watchdog chief Yukiya Amano will visit Iran tomorrow to try to advance cooperation with the agency's inquiry into Tehran's nuclear activities.

The visit comes before an August 25 deadline for Iran to provide information relevant to the International Atomic Energy Agency's investigation into suspicions that Iran may have researched how to build a nuclear bomb, an accusation it denies.

The director general would meet Iranian leaders and senior officials, an IAEA statement said. "The visit is part of the efforts to advance dialogue and cooperation between the agency and Iran," it added.

Diplomatic sources said two weeks ago that the Vienna-based IAEA was concerned about Iran's failure to make good on pledges of more transparency.

Western officials said Iranian clarifications would also advance efforts by six world powers to negotiate an end to a decade-old standoff over Iran's nuclear programme, suggesting some sanctions relief may depend on it.

Iran says it is enriching uranium solely as a peaceful project to generate electricity, not to accumulate fissile material for a potential atomic bomb.

It rejects the West's suspicions as based on false and fabricated information from its enemies but has promised, since pragmatist Hassan Rowhani became president in mid-2013, to work with the UN agency to clear them up.

Meanwhile, Iran's foreign minister said yesterday that it was unlikely to reach a final nuclear accord with world powers by a November deadline.

Mohammad Javad Zarif said that even if a general agreement was reached before the deadline, the two sides needed more time to discuss details. "Hence, it is unlikely to reach a final conclusion before a four-month span."

Zarif said the talks could "quickly" reach a conclusion if world powers showed "strong will". He said the other side had moved cautiously over the past few months but that the negotiations were making progress.

Iran and the P5+1 group - the US, Britain, France, Russia, China plus Germany - in July extended their talks until November.

Rowhani, a relative moderate, was elected last year after vowing to engage with Western powers.

Reuters, AP