- Associated Press - Monday, May 21, 2012

TEHRAN — The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, on a key mission that could lead to the resumption of probes on whether Iran has secretly worked on a nuclear weapon, said Monday that his meeting with Iranian leaders had a “good atmosphere.”

The one-day visit by Yukiya Amano of the International Atomic Energy Agency is focused on getting Iran to agree to terms that will allow IAEA inspections of suspect Iranian sites, including the Parchin military complex where the agency has reported suspicious activities in the past.

In Jerusalem, meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said world powers need to be tough on the Islamic regime’s nuclear program.

Iran wants to destroy Israel and it is developing nuclear weapons to fulfill that goal,” Mr. Netanyahu said.

Iran denies having worked on atomic weapons and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. It says Parchin is only a conventional weapons site.

Mr. Amano said the two sides discussed “various issues including nuclear disarmament, peaceful use of nuclear energy and future actions.”

“Some work remains to be done, but it will not block achievements in the talks,” he said on Iranian state television without elaboration.

Neither side made mention of Parchin in remarks to the press after the meeting, keeping their statements general.

Top Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili said that he had “good talks with Amano in this regard and, God willing, we will have good cooperation.”

Inspecting Parchin, southeast of the capital, was a key request made by senior IAEA teams that visited Tehran in January and February. Iran rebuffed those demands at the time.

Mr. Amano’s trip is significant both for what it can achieve in terms of probing Iran’s secretive nuclear program and as a mood-setter for talks Wednesday in Baghdad involving Iran, the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

Mr. Amano said the IAEA’s contacts will “definitely have a positive impact” on the Baghdad talks.

“These are two separate issues, but they can improve each other,” he said.

The six world powers are at the forefront of trying to persuade Iran to curb its nuclear program and ease concerns about wanting to make nuclear weapons. For its part, Iran will seek to delay looming U.S. and European Union sanctions on its oil exports at the Baghdad talks.

The six will attempt to get Iran to commit to stop enriching uranium to a level that can be turned quickly into the fissile core of nuclear warheads.

Parchin is especially significant because the IAEA believes Iran ran explosive tests in 2003 needed to set off a nuclear charge. The suspected blasts took place inside a pressure chamber. Iran has never said whether the chamber exists.

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