* Iran deputy foreign minister, UN nuclear chief meet
* Technical-level talks ensue, to continue on Tuesday
* IAEA suspects Iran covertly researched nuclear weapons
* Two sides using diplomatic opening of new Iran president
* Talks parallel to Iran's negotiations with 6 big powers
By Fredrik Dahl
VIENNA, Oct 28 Iran's deputy foreign minister
said he had made proposals to the U.N. nuclear watchdog chief on
Monday after pledging "a new approach" to easing international
concerns about indications of illicit atomic bomb research by
The U.N. agency wants to resume an investigation, long
stymied by Iranian non-cooperation, into what it calls the
"possible military dimensions" of the Islamic Republic's atomic
activities. Tehran says it is enriching uranium solely for
electricity generation and medical treatments.
Hopes of overcoming the stalemate between Iran and the U.N.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over the nature of the
nuclear programme have risen since the election of a moderate
president committed to easing Tehran's isolation.
Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said he had had "very
useful and constructive" discussions with IAEA Director General
Yukiya Amano and had made proposals to him to be addressed in
detail by senior IAEA and Iranian experts later in the day.
The technical-level talks - the 12th such meeting since
January 2012 and paralleling a revival of political negotiations
between Iran and six world powers - ensued and were due to last
about three hours.
Even before these talks had finished, an IAEA official
announced that they would resume at 0900 GMT on Tuesday - in
what could be a sign of new potential for progress.
"I am very hopeful that we can come out with a good result,"
Araqchi, a top Iranian nuclear negotiator, told reporters after
his meeting with Amano in Vienna.
It was the first high-level IAEA-Iranian meeting since
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took office in early August
promising to drop confrontation in favour of conciliation in the
diplomacy of the Islamic state, seeking relief from harsh
Western sanctions now hobbling its oil-based economy.
"It is very important for all of us that we can show
concrete progress," Amano said, seated across a table from
Araqchi at IAEA headquarters as the meeting got under way.
The two sides would discuss "ways forward to address all the
outstanding issues regarding Iran's nuclear programme. These are
longstanding and complicated issues", Amano added.
Araqchi said: "We think this is the time to take a new
approach to resolving (questions) between Iran and the IAEA and
look to the future for further cooperation" between them.
Iran's nuclear activity "is peaceful and it will remain
peaceful for ever", he said.
IAEA WANTS MILITARY BASE ACCESS
Expectations for Monday's Vienna talks were relatively high
after a series of failed meetings and diplomats believed Iran
might soon offer some concessions, perhaps by permitting U.N.
inspectors to visit its Parchin military base southeast of
Tehran - long an IAEA priority.
"Everybody now expects something," a Western diplomat said.
The IAEA suspects that nuclear-related explosives tests were
conducted in a steel chamber at the sprawling military complex,
possibly a decade ago, and wants inspectors to interview
officials to shed light on what happened there.
It has acknowledged, however, that it may no longer unearth
any useful evidence at Parchin due to suspected Iranian efforts
to remove any incriminating nuclear-linked traces there.
Iran says Parchin is a conventional army base.
Taking advantage of the diplomatic opening enabled by
Rouhani, Iran and six world powers are pursuing separate
negotiations towards a broader political settlement of the
dispute to head off any risk of a new Middle East war.
Their last meeting was held on Oct. 15-16 in Geneva, and
another one is scheduled for Nov. 7-8. Experts from the two
sides will meet in Vienna later this week.
An end to Iran's higher-grade enrichment of uranium is a
central demand of the powers. Refining uranium to 20 percent is
sensitive as it is a relatively short technical step to raise
that to the 90 percent needed for a nuclear bomb.
Rouhani's pursuit of substantive negotiations and detente
with the West marks a dramatic departure from eight years of
ideological belligerence under hardline conservative predecessor
Rouhani spoke by telephone with U.S. President Barack Obama
in September, the loftiest such contact between the long
estranged countries since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.