UN nuclear watchdog, Iran to hold talks on bomb probe

VIENNA, Austria - The UN atomic watchdog said Monday, April 13, it will hold talks on Wednesday seeking to jumpstart its long-stalled probe into Iran's alleged past efforts to develop nuclear weapons, a key part of a hoped-for final deal with major powers.

The meeting in Tehran will be the first since Iran and 6 major powers agreed on April 2 the main outlines of potentially historic deal curtailing Iran's nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief.

Western officials say it is crucial for Iran to answer the International Atomic Energy Agency's long-standing questions about the "possible military dimensions" of its activities before any sanctions can be eased.

Iran rejects the allegations as false information provided to a gullible and partial IAEA by the Islamic republic's enemies, complaining that it has not even been given an opportunity to see much of the supposed evidence itself.

Under the April 2 agreement, Iran agreed to scale back dramatically its nuclear programme and submit to ultra-tight IAEA inspections in order to make any dash to make a nuclear bomb extremely difficult and easily detectable.

The accord has to be finalised by June 30. However, experts warn that hammering out the details will be tough, given resistance from some in Washington and Tehran, as well as bitter opposition from Israel and across the wider Middle East.

The Vienna-based IAEA said in Monday's brief statement that its delegation at Wednesday's "technical meeting" will be headed by chief inspector Tero Varjoranta. - Rappler.com