IAEA head reaches out to new Iran government

IAEA head reaches out to new Iran government
The new ambassador from Iran to the United Nations (UN) in Vienna, Reza Najafi (R) is pictured on the first day of the board of governors' meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on September 9, 2013 at the UN headquaters in Vienna.

VIENNA - The head of the UN atomic agency reached out Monday to Iran's new government but said Tehran must urgently do more to remove suspicions it wants nuclear weapons.

The International Atomic Energy Agency "remains committed to working constructively with Iran, under the country's new government, to resolve outstanding issues by diplomatic means," Yukiya Amano told a meeting of the IAEA's board of governors.

He added however: "Given the nature and extent of credible information available to the agency about possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme, it remains essential and urgent for Iran to engage with us on the substance of these concerns."

He reiterated the IAEA's long-standing statement that since Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation it "cannot conclude" that all its nuclear work is peaceful, according to the text of his remarks.

It is because of this that the UN Security Council has passed six resolutions since 2006 -- four with sanctions attached -- calling for Tehran to suspend key parts of its nuclear work.

Denying it wants nuclear weapons, Iran has instead defiantly continued to expand its programme, most notably in the enrichment of uranium, which in highly purified form could be used in a bomb.

The United States and Israel, the Middle East's sole if undeclared country with nuclear weapons, have refused to rule out military means to stop Tehran's nuclear drive.

Numerous diplomatic initiatives over the past decade to find a peaceful solution have failed, and all the while Iran has moved closer -- in theory -- to being able to have atomic weapons.

Conciliatory-sounding noises from Hassan Rowhani since his election as president in June, replacing the more hardline Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has however created some hope.

Himself a former nuclear negotiator, Rowhani has handed responsibility for future talks to the foreign ministry under the US-educated moderate Mohammad Javad Zarif.

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