IAEA chief inspector: still 'a lot work to do' with Iran
The chief UN nuclear inspector returned from a visit to Tehran on Wednesday saying there was still "a lot of work" to do, with Iran's foreign minister saying the team did not visit any atomic sites.
"We had three days of intensive discussions about all our priorities. We are committed to resolving all the outstanding issues and the Iranians said they are committed too," Herman Nackaerts told reporters at Vienna airport.
"But of course there is still a lot of work to be done, and so we have planned another trip in the very near future," said Nackaerts, one of six-person International Atomic Energy Agency team.
"We had a good trip ... I will now go back to headquarters and inform the DG (IAEA director general Yukiya Amano) about the mission," he added, declining to comment further.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told the Fars news agency on Wednesday that the talks were "good" and it was agreed to continue them in the future.
"The delegation had some questions about the alleged studies (in a damning November IAEA report), and thanks to God we had very good sessions," he was quoted as saying.
"They did not visit any nuclear sites. We were ready to facilitate such visits if they had wanted to," he said.
The delegation also included IAEA number two Rafael Grossi, an Argentine, the IAEA's top legal official Peri Lynne Johnson, a US citizen, and two nuclear weapons experts, Jacques Baute of France and South African Neville Whiting.
The visit comes during a period of heightened tensions following the publication in November of an IAEA report that significantly raised suspicions Iran had done work on developing nuclear weapons.
The IAEA said a dossier of over 1,000 pages of documentation, intelligence from more than 10 countries and its own sources, "indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device."
It detailed 12 suspicious areas such as testing explosives in a steel container at a military base and studies on Shahab-3 ballistic missile warheads that the IAEA said were "highly relevant to a nuclear weapon programme."
The United States, the European Union and other allies have ramped up sanctions on Iran following the report, focusing on Iran's vital oil industry and central bank.
Iran insists its nuclear project is peaceful and has threatened retaliation over the fresh sanctions, including possibly disrupting shipping through the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
It has started uranium enrichment at a new fortified bunker in Fordo, near its holy city of Qom, and announced that a 20-percent enriched uranium fuel plate would be inserted into its Tehran research reactor within weeks.
At the same time, though, it has vowed to keep up cooperation with the IAEA.