UN watchdog says 'progress limited' on Iran nuclear inquiry

 UN watchdog says progress limited on Iran nuclear inquiry

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.N. nuclear watchdog has had limited progress in its inquiry into possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program, although Iran has cooperated with the agency in implementing an interim deal reached with world powers, the agency's chief said on Monday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is investigating allegations of explosives tests and other activity by Iran that could be used to develop nuclear bombs.

This inquiry runs parallel to Tehran's talks with six world powers to curb its nuclear work in exchange for lifting economic sanctions. Diplomats have voiced concern there would be little progress in the talks until that political deal is reached.

The world powers reached an interim deal with Iran, called the Joint Plan of Action, in 2013, that would halt some aspects of Iran's nuclear program in return for some sanctions relief.

"As far as the implementation of the comprehensive safeguards agreement, we have some good cooperation with Iran," said Yukiya Amano, director general of the IAEA, at a conference in Washington hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

"We are also implementing the Joint Plan of Action and we can also say the implementation is good. But with respect to the clarification of issues with possible military dimensions, the progress is limited and this is the area where more ... cooperation from Iran is needed."

Amano said the agency still was not able to conclude whether all nuclear material in Iran was being used for peaceful purposes.

"We continue to verify the non-divergence of nuclear material declared by Iran but we are still not in a position to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful purpose," he said.

(Reporting By Yeganeh Torbati and Timothy Gardner; Editing by Bill Trott)

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Updated Date: Mar 24, 2015 00:01:48 IST