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IAEA, EU to press Iran in nuclear dispute

May 15, 2013 11:32

UN nuke watchdog will urge Iran to stop stonewalling investigation into suspected atomic bomb research.

EU foreign policy chief Ashton (L) and Iran nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in Kazakhstan, Feb. 26

Jalili and Ashton at Iran talks in Kazakhstan 370. (photo credit:REUTERS)

VIENNA/ISTANBUL - Iran faces international pressure over its nuclear program in two separate meetings on Wednesday, but no breakthrough is expected with the Islamic state focused on next month's presidential election.

In Vienna, the UN nuclear agency will once again urge Iran to stop stonewalling its inquiry into suspected atomic bomb research by Tehran, which denies any intent to make such arms.

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The talks started around 10 a.m. (0800 GMT) at Iran's diplomatic mission in the Austrian capital.

"Differences remain but we ... are determined to solve these issues," Herman Nackaerts, deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told reporters.

Later over dinner in Istanbul, the European Union's top diplomat will meet Iran's chief nuclear negotiator - also now a presidential candidate - to discuss a broader diplomatic effort bid to resolve a row that could ignite war in the Middle East.

The two sets of talks represent distinct diplomatic tracks but are linked because both center on suspicions that Iran may be seeking the capability to assemble nuclear bombs behind the facade of a declared civilian atomic energy program.

Any movement in the decade-old standoff will probably have to wait until after Iranians vote on June 14 for a successor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, analysts and diplomats say.

Even though it is Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who decides Iran's nuclear policy, the conservative leadership may want to tread cautiously ahead of a poll in which loyalists will be challenged by two major independents.

With the election coming up, "the Iranians will do everything to keep everything stable," one Western envoy said.

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