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Iran nuclear: Six powers seek consensus in Vienna talks

Published: March 8, 2012 | 10:07 am
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Six world powers are to try again to agree a unified approach to Iran over its controversial nuclear programme.

A meeting of the UN’s nuclear watchdog was adjourned on Wednesday to give the countries more time to reach consensus.

They are divided on how tough they should be on Tehran, which they suspect of developing nuclear weapons.

UN nuclear diplomats have reportedly raised concerns about an Iranian military site, amid speculation of possible clean-up activities there.

Satellite images of the Parchin military site suggest trucks and earth-moving equipment are being used, possibly to clear up traces of nuclear tests, the diplomats at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told the Associated Press.

Two IAEA diplomats told AP that Iran could be trying to cover up tests of a neutron device used to set off a nuclear blast.

The agency has previously said that it suspects the Parchin site may be being used for nuclear weapons related testing.

Iran claims that its nuclear programme is purely peaceful, but Western countries and Israel fear that it is developing nuclear weapons.

Pre-emptive strike

The diplomats from the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China are meeting at the IAEA in Vienna to prepare for future talks with Iran, but have failed to reach consensus so far.

The Western countries say Tehran should be strongly criticised for its failure to co-operate with UN nuclear inspectors.

But Russia and China want a milder line, which they say will help to foster a constructive atmosphere.

The IAEA board meeting was adjourned for one day to allow for further talks, but one envoy told Reuters the differences were “nothing we can’t resolve”.

Iran suggested on Monday that it would be prepared to grant UN weapon inspectors access to Parchin in the future.

The complex, south of Tehran, is dedicated to the research, development and production of ammunition, rockets and explosives.

IAEA inspectors last visited Parchin in 2005. In February they were turned away despite “intensive efforts”.

The IAEA talks comes amid growing speculation that Israel is planning to carry out a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

On a visit to Washington this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said time was running out to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

BBC

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