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Iran, UN atomic watchdog to meet Monday

The United Nations' atomic watchdog said Sunday it would hold talks with Iran to discuss its long-stalled probe into Tehran's alleged past efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

VIENNA: The United Nations' atomic watchdog said Sunday it would hold talks with Iran to discuss its long-stalled probe into Tehran's alleged past efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

"IAEA and Iranian officials will meet on Monday in Vienna for further discussions within the Framework for Cooperation," International Atomic Energy Agency spokeswoman Gill Tudor said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has been seeking answers from Iran over what it calls "overall, credible" evidence that before 2003, and possibly since, Tehran has conducted research into making nuclear weapons.

The Islamic republic has rejected such claims, saying they are based on faulty intelligence from the CIA and Israel's Mossad -- intelligence that it has not been allowed to see.

Some progress was made last year when Iran promised to clarify its use of Exploding Bridge Wire (EBW) detonators, devices which could theoretically be used in an atomic bomb but which also have a range of other uses.

The deadline to provide answers on this issue, and also to take six other steps to improve transparency, is on Thursday.

The steps include granting the IAEA access to the Saghand uranium mine and providing more information on a new nuclear reactor under construction at Arak.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, Iran's atomic agency spokesman, told the IRNA agency last week that "most of the seven-step procedural agreement between Iran and the IAEA has been implemented".

Experts say other, much trickier questions also remain to be resolved.

Other claims outlined in a major November 2011 IAEA report include alleged explosives testing at the Parchin military base near Tehran that the watchdog says would be "strong indicators" of missile development.

The meeting comes a day ahead of the next round of parallel but linked talks, also in Vienna, between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

They aim to turn into a lasting accord a temporary deal from November under which Iran scaled back certain nuclear activities for six months in return for minor and reversible relief from painful UN and Western sanctions.

As part of this sought-after comprehensive accord, as well as reducing in scope its nuclear activities, the six powers want Iran to answer all the IAEA's outstanding questions.

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