The UN's nuclear watchdog has said that Iran is continuing to fail to provide information proving that it isn't working on an atomic bomb. This comes ahead of talks between Iran and six powers on its nuclear program.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a confidential report obtained by news agencies on Friday that by failing to provide information it had promised to make available more than two months ago, Iran had effectively stalled its investigation into Tehran's nuclear activities.
"Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures," the report said.
The statement referred to specific steps that Iran had pledged to complete by late August, addressing allegations of explosives tests and other activity that could be associated with the development of nuclear weapons.
The report also said that there was no reason to believe that Tehran would do so before November 24. That's the deadline agreed by Iran with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, the UK, France, Russia and China - plus Germany to reach a comprehensive deal to curb Tehran's nuclear program in return for a lifting of economic sanctions.
Friday's report said that IAEA and Iranian officials had agreed to hold a "technical meeting to further discuss the two outstanding practical measures," but that this too would not happen before November 24.
Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Reza Najafi, rejected the findings of the report.
"The fact that the agency claims that Iran's explanation does not enable the agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures, is a wrong reflection of reality," Najafi told Iran's official IRNA news agency.
Meanwhile, senior negotiators from the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany, the so-called P5+1 group met in Vienna on Friday, to begin preparations for a final round of negotiations, which is to begin there on November 18. On Sunday, the European Union's former foreign policy coordinator, Catherine Ashton, is to hold talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry as well as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Oman on Sunday.
Among the major bones of contention is how much uranium Iran would be allowed to continue enriching and how quickly economic sanctions would be lifted. The P5+1 group is seeking to prevent Iran from enriching uranium to a degree that would be useful in the production of nuclear arms.
Tehran insists that its nuclear program is meant for peaceful purposes only.
pfd/lw (dpa, AFP)