Last updated: 5 November, 2013

Salehi: UN nuclear watchdog chief expected in Iran for deal

UN atomic watchdog chief Yukiya Amano is expected in Tehran on Monday, Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said on Tuesday, adding that he hopes for a deal to be clinched.

The visit by International Atomic Energy Agency head Amano is aimed at resolving the decade-long standoff over Iran’s disputed nuclear programme.

The West suspects Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, but Tehran says the programme is for peaceful purposes only.

“I invited Amano to visit Tehran on November 11 and he expressed his willingness to come,” Salehi was quoted as saying by the website of state broadcaster IRIB.

Salehi said he hoped “to reach an agreement with (Amano) and issue a joint statement”.

Ten meetings between Iran and the IAEA since a major report from the UN body in November 2011 have made little headway, but the tone of negotiations changed after President Hassan Rouhani, a reputed moderate, took office in August.

The IAEA, which meets again in Tehran on November 11, hailed the last round of talks with Iran in Vienna on October 28 as “productive” and “constructive,” the latest possible sign of Tehran’s willingness to ease international concerns about its nuclear work.

The atomic watchdog conducts regular inspections of Iran’s nuclear activities, but also wants to probe claims that prior to 2003, and possibly since, Iranian scientists conducted experiments aimed at developing a nuclear arsenal.

Iran has repeatedly denied this, saying the IAEA’s claims are based on faulty Western foreign intelligence reports that it has not been allowed to see.