Iran nuclear dispute under scrutiny again at IAEA meet


Vienna : The dispute over Iran's controversial nuclear programme is set to return to the centre of international interest at the upcoming meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) board of governors starting here Monday.

Support TwoCircles

Ahead of the meet, there is hope among Vienna diplomats that Iran may be more forthcoming in cooperating with the UN nuclear watchdog. Talks on how to improve Iranian cooperation are expected to take place at the sidelines of the meeting, after Tehran recently indicated its willingness to solve outstanding issues.

The members of the IAEA's 35-nation board are set to gather for their regular summer meeting starting Monday. The delegates will consider the latest report by IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, which said the IAEA's knowledge about Iran's nuclear programme was "deteriorating" due to lack of Iranian cooperation.

ElBaradei also said in his report that Iran was continuing to build up its uranium enrichment capacities, thereby violating several UN Security council resolutions. At its pilot enrichment plant at Natanz, Tehran has currently installed 13 cascades with 164 centrifuges each in varying states of operation.

Diplomats do not expect any resolutions from the board, as the Security Council may come up with further measures against Iran after the country ignored yet another deadline for freezing enrichment.

Tehran insists its nuclear programme, which it had kept hidden from UN inspectors for almost two decades is peaceful, purely for energy production. Western nations, chiefly the US, however fear that Iran is secretly pursuing nuclear weapons.