IAEA chief: Fresh round of talks with Iran to take place within days
The head of the UN nuclear agency called on Iran on Monday to sign a deal giving greater transparency on its nuclear drive and announced that new talks with Tehran would be held this week.
At the opening of a week-long meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency board in Vienna, Yukiya Amano also urged Tehran to allow access to a suspect military site near the capital.
"I invite Iran to sign and implement... as soon as possible" an agreement that would allow access to sites, documents and people related to its nuclear programme, Amano said.
Announcing a new round of talks between the IAEA and Iran in Vienna on Friday, Amano said Tehran needed to do more to alleviate Western fears it is developing a nuclear bomb by complying fully with international obligations.
"Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable the agency to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities," he told the board of governors.
Amano also urged Iran "to provide early access to the Parchin site," a military base near Tehran where the IAEA believes suspicious explosives testing has been carried out.
After a visit to Tehran on May 21, where he met Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, Amano had said an accord could be signed "quite soon," but there is still no sign of any deal two weeks on.
Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh nevertheless noted that after Amano's visit, "a new chapter of cooperation between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the agency has started".
The accord with the IAEA would allow agency inspectors to go to Parchin, which the agency has been trying to visit for months.
Access has however been denied by Tehran, which insists the site is of no significance to its nuclear programme and therefore it is not obliged to allow inspections there.
In its last report, the IAEA said new satellite imagery of the base indicated "extensive activities" where there had been "virtually" none for years.
These activities included the razing of two buildings and what experts saw as signs of a clean-up.
This "could hamper the agency's ability to undertake effective verification" of the site, the IAEA report warned.
The closed-door IAEA meeting comes amid a flurry of international talks to try to curb what the West sees as an Iranian bid to make a nuclear bomb, claims denied by Tehran which insists its atomic programme is solely for peaceful purposes.
The so-called P5+1 -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany -- revived talks with Iran in Istanbul in April and met again in May in Baghdad, although little was achieved.
Iran and the six world powers are due to meet again in Moscow on June 18-19, before an EU oil embargo against Iran comes into force on July 1.
A key source of dispute has been Iran's enrichment of uranium to 20-percent purity, bringing Tehran consistently closer to producing 90-percent enriched uranium needed to make a bomb, according to Western powers.
On Sunday, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said claims Tehran was seeking nuclear weapons were "based on a lie" and insisted that sanctions on his country were ineffective and only strengthened its resolve.
Iran has already been subjected to four rounds of UN Security Council sanctions over its nuclear activities.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Monday that Israel and the United States were discussing a new raft of sanctions if the next round of talks between world powers and Tehran fail.
"If we don't get a breakthrough in Moscow there is no question we will continue to ratchet up the pressure," US Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen, who coordinates US sanctions policy against Iran, told the paper.
Israel, the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear-armed nation, has warned that an Iranian nuclear capability would pose an existential threat to the Jewish state.