VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran’s nuclear negotiator promised speedier cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday, days after the U.N. watchdog said Tehran was continuing to stall parts of an investigation into its nuclear programme.
“We agreed ... to move faster and in a better sense (in cooperating with the IAEA),” Abbas Araqchi told reporters after meeting IAEA head Yukiya Amano in Vienna.
The U.N. investigation is happening in parallel with talks between Iran and the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France and Germany aimed at reaching a framework deal by an end-March deadline over Iranian nuclear energy work that the West fears is a cover for a weapons programme.
Western diplomats say Iran has stalled the U.N. probe to indicate it would not cooperate fully until sanctions are lifted as part of any final deal. Iran says its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.
The IAEA described Tuesday’s meeting as useful but reiterated previous calls on Iran to speed up its cooperation with the investigation into whether work it conducted in the past was linked to nuclear weapons development.
Iran had been meant to explain away allegations of explosives tests and other activity that could be used to develop nuclear bombs by last August, but failed to do so.
Araqchi told reporters there was a “good understanding between Iran and the agency.”
“We were able to review the course of cooperation between Iran and the agency and we decided to expedite that cooperation, acknowledging the important role of the agency in any future possible agreement between Iran and the P5+1,” he said, referring to the group of countries Iran is negotiating with.
Araqchi said progress had been made at the latest talks with representatives of the six powers, but that there was still a “long way to go”. A senior U.S. official had said the sides at that meeting had been able to “sharpen up some of the tough issues”.
Talks will resume next Monday, it was decided after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held talks in Geneva on Sunday and Monday.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz had joined the talks in Geneva, which helped some issues to progress, Araqchi said.
Additional reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Robin Pomeroy