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Iran seeks 'explicit' deal in nuclear row: Minister

world Updated: Jul 12, 2011 22:50 IST

Iran on Tuesday signalled it wanted closer cooperation with the UN atomic watchdog but said the Vienna-based agency must agree to "explicit" guidelines on how to proceed to solve a nuclear row.

"Experts from both sides have to sit together and work out a mechanism to see how we can proceed," Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi said after talks with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano.

But the "IAEA should come out and say that the first stage has been over" and that six outstanding issues have been answered.

"And it should be said in a very explicit way," he added speaking at IAEA headquarters in the Austrian capital.

For his part, Amano reiterated the IAEA's position that Iran is not meeting its obligations as listed in his February report and could not yet consider a new approach with Iran.

"The Director General indicated that he is not in a position at this stage to consider the Work Plan to be completed," the IAEA said in a statement.

Iran and the IAEA agreed in 2007 on a work plan for Tehran to answer outstanding concerns about its contested nuclear programme.

The UN Security Council has demanded, with both resolutions and sanctions, that Iran stop uranium enrichment, which produces fuel for civilian power reactors but can also make the raw material for atom bombs.

In its latest report the IAEA also reiterated calls for Tehran to clarify its position before the watchdog wraps up its probe into the Iranian nuclear programme.

Austrian foreign minister Michael Spindelegger, after meeting with Salehi, told journalists on Tuesday it was important to "overcome the stalemate" over Iran's nuclear programme and return to the negotiating table.

"Unfortunately there has been no progress in the past few years," he noted, although he expressed hope a recent invitation by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton could again set things into motion.

Salehi meanwhile brushed off suspicions regarding Iran's nuclear activities.

"The IAEA is the only international authority on this issue so other judgements whether Iran carries out peaceful or non-peaceful activities" were irrelevant, he said, reiterating Tehran's official position that nuclear weapons were "immoral and unethical."