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Iran

IAEA hopes for Iran nuclear deal at January talks

The UN's chief nuclear inspector, Herman Nackaerts, has returned from talks in Iran, which he described as "good." The Belgian IAEA inspector said he hoped a deal on inspections would be reached next month.

The chief inspector for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Herman Nackaerts, told reporters in Vienna that he hoped to be able to reach a nuclear inspection deal with Iran in January.

On arrival at the airport after a one-day visit to Tehran, the Belgian nuclear expert said the IAEA, the UN's nuclear watchdog, and Iran would meet again on January 16. Nackaerts went to Iran seeking a new framework deal with the country on allowing UN inspectors into the country's nuclear facilities.

"We expect to finalize the structured approach and start implementing it then shortly after that," Nackaerts said. "We had good meetings. We were able to make progress."

Nackaerts also told reporters in the Austrian capital, where the IAEA headquarters is located, that Iran had not approved inspections of the Parchin military site.

The IAEA said after similar talks in May that it hoped for a swift deal on inspections, which did not materialize.

Several countries, most notably Israel and the US, accuse Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, while the government in Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

The US on Thursday announced further sanctions against Iran, this time targeting five people including Fereidoun Abbasi-Davani, the country's atomic energy chief.

"These entities and individuals were designated because they provide the Iranian government goods, technology and services that increase Iran's ability to enrich uranium and/or construct a heavy water moderated research reactor," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

Among other measures, the sanctions forbid all US businesses from dealing with the individuals identified by Washington.

msh/pfd    (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)