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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

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Iran, IAEA Open Vienna Talks On Access

May 14, 2012

Iran and the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency have opened talks in Vienna about the Islamic republic's nuclear activities.

The two-day meeting is bringing together Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Ali Asghar Soltanieh, and the IAEA's chief inspector, Hermann Nackaerts.

The last such talks were held in February in Iran, and failed to result in any breakthrough.

The UN agency is investigating suspicions that Tehran may be seeking to develop a nuclear-weapons capability.

Tehran denies any such plan.

The UN is seeking access to Iran's Parchin military complex, where there are concerns that work toward nuclear weapons may have taken place.

Iran is due to discuss the nuclear issue with six world powers -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States, and Germany -- on May 23 in Baghdad.

The IAEA suspects the large containment chamber at Parchin could be used for possible nuclear-weapon development. Such suspicions were contained in a report on Iran's nuclear program issued by the IAEA in November.

IAEA head Yukiya Amano says the issue is a "priority" for his team of senior officials in this week's discussions.

Iran has rejected the accusations as fabricated but so far has not granted repeated requests by the UN agency to visit the site.

Tehran has repeatedly denied it is secretly working to build a nuclear weapon, something the West suspects, especially the United States and its close ally Israel.

Meanwhile, Iran has warned Western powers that applying pressure could jeopardize even more high-stake talks on its nuclear program.

Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, said on May 11 she hoped the upcoming talks would form the basis for Iran to eventually abandon its "nuclear weapons program."

Based on AFP and Reuters reporting


Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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