Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, will meet the head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency this week as part of a push for a new round of talks over Tehran's disputed nuclear program, an Iranian nuclear official said Wednesday.
Larijani will meet Mohamed ElBaradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria, on Friday, according to the deputy head of Iran's atomic energy organization, Mohammad Saeedi.
In Vienna, the IAEA confirmed that ElBaradei would meet with Larijani on Friday morning, but declined to provide more details.
Earlier this month, Iran abruptly canceled talks with ElBaradei, dashing hopes that Tehran is ready to end its secrecy about past suspicious nuclear activities.
Saadi said the meeting with ElBaradei will come a day ahead of Saturday's Larijani talks with EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, in Lisbon, Portugal.
Larijani's trip to Austria and Spain is seen as an effort to find a way to bridge the impasse over Iran's rejection of UN Security Council demands that it suspend uranium enrichment despite two rounds of punitive UN sanctions. The enrichment process can produce fuel for civilian energy or fissile material for a bomb, depending on the level of enrichment.
The United States and some of its allies fear that Iran is using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to produce atomic weapons. Iran denies the charge, saying its nuclear program is geared toward generating electricity.
Iran says it is too late now to stop its nuclear program because it has already achieved proficiency in the cycle of nuclear fuel - from extracting uranium ore to enriching it. Teheran has vowed never to give up its right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel.