* Iran chief negotiator doubts world powers' readiness
* Tehran says watchdog manipulated by Western intelligence
* Talks with IAEA due on Friday, world powers June 18
By Fredrik Dahl and Isabel Coles
VIENNA/DUBAI, June 6 Iran questioned world
powers' readiness for negotiations over its disputed nuclear
programme and accused the U.N. watchdog on Wednesday of behaving
like a Western-manipulated intelligence agency, keeping up its
sparring ahead of talks in Moscow.
Iranian media said Tehran had written twice to Britain,
France, Russia, China, the United States and Germany - otherwise
known as the P5+1 - seeking preparatory meetings before the
talks due on June 18, but had yet to hear back.
"The other side's delay in meeting deputies and experts
throws doubt and ambiguity on their readiness for successful
talks," Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili said in a letter to
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, according to the IRNA
news agency. Ashton is handling contacts with Iran on behalf of
the six powers.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the Western
powers were seeking to "waste time" and "looking for excuses" by
refusing to engage in preparatory talks with Iran.
Under the persistent threat of military strikes by Israel
and ever tighter economic sanctions from the West, Iran has
returned to nuclear talks that had stalled in early 2011.
Diplomats say Iranian negotiators were more forthcoming at
talks in Baghdad last month than in previous negotiations, and
believe Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's highest
authority, has given them a freer hand to explore a deal.
"Of course, the Islamic Republic does not expect the nuclear
issue to be resolved in one meeting," IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as
saying on the sidelines of a summit in Beijing.
At the heart of the decade-long standoff is Iran's
insistence on the right to enrich uranium and that sanctions
should be lifted before it shelves activities that could lead to
its achieving the capability to develop nuclear weapons.
Western powers insist Tehran must first shut down
higher-grade enrichment - beyond that needed for power stations
- before sanctions could be eased on the major oil producer.
Diplomats say Iran may offer the U.N. International Atomic
Energy Agency increased cooperation in separate talks on Friday
as a bargaining chip in the discussions with world powers.
But Iran's IAEA Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh showed
little appetite for making concessions, telling reporters in
Vienna: "Unfortunately the agency, which is supposed to be an
international technical organisation, is somehow playing the
role of an intelligence agency."
Full transparency and cooperation with the IAEA is one of
the elements the world powers are seeking from Iran, which
denies Western accusations that it is seeking to develop the
means and technologies needed for building atomic bombs.
The U.N. agency aims to seal a framework agreement that
would unblock its investigation into suspected nuclear bomb
research. It wants to visit a military site, Parchin, where it
suspects Iran has carried out explosives tests that could be
used to develop nuclear arms.
Iran, which says Parchin is a conventional military site,
has so far denied access.
Western diplomats said Soltanieh's harsh remarks aimed at
the IAEA cast further doubt on the chances of a successful
outcome in the June 8 talks between Iran and the U.N. nuclear
Robert Wood, the acting U.S. envoy to the IAEA, told
reporters the attack on the agency was "extremely unfortunate"
and he said he was "not optimistic" that there would be a deal
signed on Friday.
"Iran needs to stop trying to undermine the integrity of the
agency and its work and cooperate with the agency to answer all
the outstanding questions with regard to its nuclear programme,"
Wood told reporters.
A European diplomat described Soltanieh's statement as
"confrontational" and said it sent a negative signal to this
week's talks in Vienna that Iran would not compromise at all.
Iran is showing no willingness "to engage on issues of
substance" with the IAEA, the diplomat said.
It was unclear what Iran aimed to gain from its proposed
preparatory talks before meeting world powers.
Western diplomats often have accused Tehran of seeking to
buy time for its nuclear activities by trying to engage in talks
about process rather than substance, without real intention of
making any concrete concessions.
An adviser to Iran's supreme leader was quoted as saying on
Tuesday that the talks could have a positive outcome if the
world recognised Iran's "inalienable nuclear rights". Tehran
says that as a member of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty it
can develop a full nuclear fuel cycle.
Washington said on Tuesday Iran had to move first to make
its nuclear work compatible with international law and demanded
it let U.N. inspectors into the military site that the West
believes has been used for weapons-related nuclear research.
A spokeswoman for the EU's Ashton said on Wednesday she
would contact Jalili before the planned Moscow negotiations but
saw no need for further preparatory meetings.
"We have made it very clear that preparatory work is ongoing
and political issues need to be dealt with on political level,"
(Additional reporting by Andrew Quinn in Washington, Justyna
Pawlak in Brussels; Writing by Alison Williams; Editing by