News24

IAEA wraps up talks in Iran: media

2012-01-31 21:33

Tehran - Three days of talks between a visiting IAEA delegation and Iranian officials wrapped up late on Tuesday with no sign of any breakthrough on tensions over Tehran's nuclear programme, media reported.

Both sides "agreed on continuing the talks", the Fars and ISNA news agencies reported, saying a date had been set but not divulging it.

Fars said the talks "were held in a positive and constructive atmosphere".

ISNA said that the six-person International Atomic Energy Agency team "did not visit any of the nuclear centres and facilities in our country during their trip".

Neither Iranian media nor the UN watchdog's team itself has revealed the substance of the talks, or which Iranian officials were involved.

The IAEA officials, lead by chief inspector Herman Nackaerts, were expected to return to the agency's headquarters in Vienna early on Wednesday.

Its visit was seen as a rare opportunity to defuse an international showdown over Iran's nuclear programme that has been building since the IAEA published a report in November strongly suggesting Tehran had been researching atomic weapons.

The United States and the European Union have been piling severe economic sanctions on Iran in the past three months to pressure it to halt its nuclear activities.

Iran, which maintains its programme is for peaceful purposes, has refused and reacted by starting new uranium enrichment in a fortified bunker at Fordo, near the holy city of Qom.

It has also threatened to retaliate, possibly by closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Persian Gulf, if sanctions cripple its vital oil exports or if it is attacked.

The United States and its allies have deployed warships to the Gulf region. There is also increased speculation that Israel is planning military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities.