TOKYO - The UN nuclear agency chief said on Friday he was not optimistic about talks with Iran next week on getting access to a military base Western powers suspect has been used for atomic-weapons related work.

"The outlook is not bright," Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said in Tokyo.

He was referring to negotiations to be held in Tehran on Wednesday on a framework accord the IAEA hopes will give it access to the Parchin military facility, documents and officials involved in Iran's disputed nuclear program.

Western powers say Iran is trying to develop the capability to make atomic weapons, a charge the Islamic Republic denies.

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Both the IAEA and Tehran have said progress was achieved at a meeting in December towards an agreement the Vienna-based UN agency says would allow it to resume a long-stalled inquiry into suspected atom bomb research in Iran.

However, Amano said in Japanese comments translated into English: "Talks with Iran don't proceed in a linear way. It's one step forward, two or three steps back ... So we can't say we have an optimistic outlook" for the January 16 meeting.

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