UN nuke agency indicates slow going on Iran probe

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VIENNA (AP) — With his probe of suspected nuclear weapons work by Iran sputtering, the head of the U.N. atomic agency on Monday urged Iran to either cooperate or accept the prospect of a ruling on the allegations based on incomplete information.

Comments to reporters by International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano focused on the latest IAEA attempt over more than a decade to follow up the suspicions.

Iran says it does not want nuclear arms and never worked toward them. But the agency says it has collected about 1,000 pages of information that point to attempts to develop such weapons. It again has reported next to no progress since agreeing with Iran late last year on a new effort to try and clear up the allegations.

"This is not an endless process," said Amano, when pressed on how much longer his agency was prepared to pursue its latest investigation. He indicated that the IAEA would make an assessment on the suspicions at the latest in about two years' time — even if it failed to get the information it needed from Tehran.

"It is obvious that much more discussions and meeting are needed," he said.

Reporting earlier in the day to the IAEA's 35-nation board, he said that Tehran had not yet met his request to propose two new areas of investigation by Sept. 2. While saying that discussions have begun on two other alleged series of experiments that the two sides agreed on earlier, he indicated that the agency has yet to receive answers to its queries.

The IAEA inquiry is formally separate from U.S.-led talks with Iran focused on long term caps on Tehran's atomic programs in exchange for an end to nuclear-related sanctions. But Washington says a successful IAEA investigation must be part of any final deal.

That is unlikely by Nov. 24 - the target date for such an agreement.

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