The U.N. nuclear watchdog said today a planned meeting with Iran next week to discuss steps meant to help allay concern over its nuclear programme had been postponed to Feb. 8, without giving a reason.
The talks between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are separate from - though still closely linked with - broader diplomacy between Tehran and six world powers over Iran's disputed nuclear activity.
In November, Iran and the IAEA agreed a cooperation pact, including six initial steps to be taken by the country over the following three months, including access to two nuclear-related facilities and the provision of information.
They said after a review meeting last month they would meet again in Tehran on Jan. 21 to discuss the next steps under the framework agreement. An IAEA spokeswoman confirmed in an e-mail a report that the date of the meeting had been postponed.
The IAEA wants Iran to address allegations that it has researched how to develop nuclear bombs, a charge Iran denies. Tehran says the nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.
Separately, Iran and the six powers - the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia - said on Sunday the implementation of a Nov. 24 landmark agreement to curb Tehran's atomic activity in return for some sanctions easing would begin on Jan. 20. The IAEA will play a major role in verifying that Iran implements its part of the deal.
The IAEA's 35-nation governing board is due to hold an extraordinary meeting on Jan. 24 to discuss the U.N agency's extra work in monitoring the six-month agreement between Iran and the six states.
IAEA will now both increase the frequency of such visits and see some additional facilities, including plants where Iran manufactures equipment for refining uranium. Enriched uranium can have both civilian and military purposes.
For its increased workload, the IAEA likely needs to send more inspectors to Iran and it has tentatively assessed that it will face extra costs of roughly 5 million euros ($6.83 million) which partly will be funded by voluntary member states contributions.