U.N. nuclear agency denies its head plans to visit Iran

VIENNA Wed Oct 10, 2012 10:26am EDT

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano attends a news conference during a board of governors meeting at the United Nations headquarters in Vienna September 10, 2012. REUTERS/Herwig Prammer

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano attends a news conference during a board of governors meeting at the United Nations headquarters in Vienna September 10, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Herwig Prammer

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VIENNA (Reuters) - The U.N. atomic watchdog denied on Wednesday its head planned to visit Iran to discuss his mounting concerns over possible military dimensions to Tehran's disputed nuclear programme.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted on his ministry's website as saying Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was to travel to Tehran to resume discussions with Iranian officials, though he gave no date.

"The IAEA has seen media reports that Director General Amano will visit Iran to discuss nuclear issues. There are no such plans at this time," Serge Gas, IAEA director of public information, said.

Amano said last week the IAEA had yet to agree a date for further talks with Iran and had little hope for a speedy resolution to a standoff with Tehran over its nuclear programme.

Iran denies Western accusations that it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons capability, saying its programme is a peaceful bid to generate electricity.

The IAEA and Iran have held a series of meetings since January this year over the agency's suspicions of nuclear weapons research, so far without any concrete results.

Western diplomats accuse Iran of stonewalling the IAEA's long-stalled inquiry. Amano made a high-profile visit to Tehran in May, but failed to achieve a breakthrough.

The IAEA's relations with Iran have become increasingly strained, with Iran's atomic energy chief last month saying "terrorists" may have infiltrated the Vienna-based U.N. agency.

(Reporting by Fredrik Dahl; Additional reporting by Marcus George in Dubai; Editing by Alison Williams)

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