IAEA chief says Iran `key priority` for 2012
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Last Updated: Friday, January 20, 2012, 23:14
Vienna: The head of the UN atomic agency Yukiya Amano said Iran's nuclear programme will be his main focus this year, according to remarks released today ahead of an IAEA visit to Tehran in late January.

"My key priority in 2012 will be to try to make progress towards restoring international confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme," Amano told an International Atomic Energy Agency new year's reception on Thursday.

"This is the most important of the major safeguards issues on our agenda. A senior team from the Agency, led by Deputy Director General for Safeguards Herman Nackaerts, will visit Iran towards the end of this month.

"I am fully committed to working constructively with Iran and I trust that Iran will approach our forthcoming discussions in an equally constructive spirit."

Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Ashgar Soltanieh, was quoted by the Fars news agency on Tuesday as saying that the visit by Nackaerts would last from January 29-31.

Nackaerts, who is Belgian, will be accompanied by the agency's number two, Rafael Grossi, an Argentine, as well as the Vienna-based agency's senior legal official Peri Lynne Johnson, a US citizen, according to diplomats.

In November an IAEA report, rejected as "baseless" by Iran, said the agency was able to build an overall impression that Tehran "carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device."

Since the report, Western countries have sought to increase pressure on Iran, with Washington and Brussels taking aim at Iran's oil industry and central bank, while pressing Japan, China and others to join them.

Iran denies seeking atomic weapons, saying its programme is peaceful, but Western countries strongly suspect otherwise and the UN Security Council has slapped four rounds of sanctions on the Islamic republic.


First Published: Friday, January 20, 2012, 23:14

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