The UN's nuclear watchdog has reached an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program. US Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, has said world powers agreed on a deal at the Geneva talks before Tehran backed out.
The "roadmap" agreement which Tehran signed on Monday with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) allows inspectors more access to Iran's nuclear sites.
The deal was made in a meeting in the Iranian capital between IAEA chief Yukiya Amano and the head of Iran's nuclear program, Ali Akbar Salehi (pictured above). It gives inspectors access to the Arak heavy water reactor under construction and the Gachin uranium mine.
"The joint statement that was signed today details a roadmap for cooperation that determines mutual steps to resolve remaining issues," Salehi said at a news conference with Amano carried on state television.
Amano called the deal "an important step," but cautioned "much more must be done."
"The practical measures will be implemented in the next three months, starting from today," he added.
The IAEA conducts regular inspections of Iran's nuclear program but it wants to investigate possible efforts by Tehran to develop a nuclear weapon, in particular prior to 2003. The agency wants to visit the Parchin military base southeast of Tehran where intelligence evidence has indicated weapon research may have been carried out.
The West accuses Iran of using its nuclear program to develop a nuclear weapon, but Iran says the program is for peaceful, scientific purposes.
Kerry shifts blame to Iran
Speaking from Abu Dhabi on Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry shed more light on weekend talks between Iran and the P5+1 nations in Geneva that failed to end in a deal.
He said representatives from the P5+1 nations - the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany - had agreed on a proposal that was presented to the Iranians, but they weren't able to accept it "at that particular moment."
The agreement not reached over the weekend was in principle for Iran to roll back portions of its uranium enrichment program, in exchange for an easing of the economic sanctions that have crippled its economy. The two sides have agreed to meet again on November 20.
Kerry added that while he hoped a deal would be completed within months, the US wasn't rushing to reach an agreement.
"This is not a race to complete just any agreement," he said.
France expresses optimism
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Monday reaffirmed his position that a deal with the Iranians was close.
"We are not far from an agreement with the Iranians but we are not there yet," Fabius told Europe 1 radio.
Some diplomats said France's unwillingness to budgewas the reason the Geneva talks failed, but Fabius denied the accusations.
"France is neither isolated nor a country that follows the herd," he said. "It is independent and works for peace."
dr/jr (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)