* Iran, IAEA failed to make progress in talks this year
* Possible new meeting comes ahead of watchdog report
VIENNA Aug 21 The U.N. nuclear watchdog and
Iran are expected to meet on Friday for the first time since
they failed in June to make progress towards answering questions
about suspected atom bomb research in the Islamic state,
diplomats said on Tuesday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) declined to
comment on whether a new meeting was planned and there was no
immediate comment from Iran's diplomatic mission in Vienna.
Two diplomats accredited to the U.N. agency said they had
heard that talks were likely to take place in the Austrian
capital on Aug. 24, just a few days before the IAEA is due to
issue its latest quarterly report on Iran's nuclear programme.
If confirmed, it could give Iran a last-minute chance to
influence the content of the report if it were to offer
concessions to U.N. inspectors seeking access to sites,
officials and documents they say they need for their inquiry.
But the diplomats, from countries which are critical of
Iran, said they did not expect any breakthrough.
Tehran denies Western allegations it is seeking to develop a
capability to make nuclear bombs. But its refusal to curb and be
more transparent about its nuclear activity has led to
increasingly tough sanctions and sparked speculation that Israel
might attack Iranian nuclear sites.
Iran "will try something", one of the diplomats said. But,
"I don't see any bridging of the differences on the issues that
were outstanding" in the last meeting on June 8.
The IAEA report - which is expected to show Tehran pressing
ahead with its uranium enrichment programme - will be submitted
to the agency's 35-nation governing board, which meets on Sept.
10-14 with Iran likely to again dominate the agenda.
WEST SUSPECTS PARCHIN CLEAN-UP
The IAEA has failed in a series of high-profile rounds of
talks since January to persuade Iranian officials to stop
stonewalling the agency's inquiry into indications that it has
engaged in illicit nuclear weapons research.
The U.N. watchdog has been pressing Tehran for an agreement
that would give it immediate access to the Parchin military
complex, where it believes explosives tests relevant for the
development of nuclear arms have taken place.
Western diplomats suspect Iran has been purging the site of
any incriminating evidence, a charge Tehran has dismissed.
Iran says there must first be a wider accord with the IAEA
on how the agency's investigation should be conducted before
possibly allowing inspectors into Parchin.
Analysts say Iran seems to be using its discussions with the
IAEA to gain leverage in its separate meetings with six world
powers that have made little headway since they resumed in April
after a 15-month gap.
The six powers - the United States, France, Russia, Germany,
Britain and China - also want Iran's full cooperation with the
U.N. watchdog. But their more immediate demand is that Iran stop
activity that could give it the capability to build atom bombs.
Iran seeks recognition of what it says is its legal right to
enrich uranium - which can yield either fuel for nuclear power
stations or for bombs - and a lifting of harsh economic
sanctions now targeting its economically vital oil exports.