The UN nuclear agency expressed confidence Friday that it will clinch a deal with Iran next month under which Tehran will at last answer "credible" evidence that it has conducted atomic weapons research.
Herman Nackaerts, International Atomic Energy Agency chief inspector, said after what he called "good meetings" in Tehran that the deal would include access to the Parchin base where the agency suspects explosives tests applicable for nuclear weapons took place.
Such a breakthrough, if it really happens, could indicate that Iran, feeling the pinch from massive sanctions pressure, may give ground in parallel diplomatic efforts with six world powers stalled since June.
"We have agreed to meet again on January 16, where we expect to finalise the structured approach and start implementing it then shortly after that," Nackaerts told reporters at Vienna airport, saying Parchin was "part of" the arrangement under negotiation.
On Thursday, Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, was quoted by state media as saying in typically upbeat fashion that the meeting was "constructive, positive, and good progress has been made".
Iran denies seeking or ever having sought nuclear weapons, and says its programme is exclusively peaceful.