VIENNA – The head of the U.N.'s atomic agency is considering visiting Tehran, a spokeswoman said Tuesday, while stopping short of confirming Iranian reports that the trip was set and would coincide with talks on agency efforts to probe suspicions that the Islamic Republic worked on nuclear weapons.
In an email to The Associated Press, spokeswoman Gill Tudor of the International Atomic Energy Agency said its chief, Yukiya Amano had "been invited to visit Iran and this is being considered."
She was responding to a report by Iran's official IRNA news agency, which quoted the country's nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, as saying that Amano would arrive Nov. 12. That is one day after an IAEA team is scheduled to begin talks with Iranian negotiators about the contours of the hoped-for agency investigation.
Amano's presence at the same time that the talks are being held would likely intensify expectations of significant progress after two recent rounds of meetings in Vienna that both sides described as chipping away at nearly two years of deadlock.
It also would follow closely on next week's round of talks about Iran's nuclear program in Geneva between Iran and six world powers. Both sides described their last round of these talks in October as positive, with Tehran ready to discuss some curbs on programs that can create both atomic energy and the fissile core of nuclear arms.
While the Vienna and Geneva talks are formally separate, they are linked by concerns over Iran's nuclear aspirations, and progress in one may result in advances in the other.
Tehran denies either wanting or working on atomic weapons.
The Vienna talks have been deadlocked over agency experts seeking an open-ended investigation in Iran, and its government insisting that a document be prepared that outlines the limits on what can be inspected, who can be questioned and other constraints.