International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano traveled to Tehran Wednesday to discuss a probe of alleged nuclear weapons research that is a key part of Iran's planned deal with six world powers, the IAEA said.
The Vienna-based agency said Amano was scheduled to meet Iranian President Hassan Rowhani Thursday, just five days before the deadline that Iran and the six-country group have set themselves for reaching their agreement.
Amano would discuss how to "accelerate the resolution of all outstanding issues related to Iran's nuclear programme, including clarification of possible military dimensions," his press office said.
Iran and the six powers are trying to reach a deal by next week that would: set controls on work allowed at Iran's nuclear facilities; impose strict IAEA inspections; and force the country to start cooperating on the weapons probe, all in return for sanctions relief.
The IAEA has collected information from Western intelligence agencies and independent sources indicating that various projects on developing key nuclear weapons technology were going on as recently as 2013.
Tehran has provided the IAEA only limited access to sites, scientists and documents linked to the projects. It maintains that the allegations that such projects existed are based on fabricated intelligence.
In contrast to the IAEA, Iranian sources said the main aim of Amano's visit would be to talk about the first phase of the planned deal, in which IAEA inspectors will have to confirm whether Iran has fulfilled its obligation to scale down its nuclear activities.
This confirmation would, in turn, be the signal for the group of Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and China to start lifting sanctions targeting Iran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif and his US counterpart, John Kerry, were continuing negotiations on the planned deal in Vienna, a day after the deadline for the talks had been extended by one week.
The chief diplomats from the other involved countries were expected to join the two men once more in Vienna, where foreign ministers have come and gone over the course of intensive negotations in the past days.
Iran and the six countries have yet to bridge differences over several key points, including how quickly sanctions can be lifted, if and on what conditions the IAEA can visit military sites, and what amount of nuclear research will be allowed under the deal.
By Albert Otti and Farshid Motahari
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