Official: Iran, nuclear watchdog group deal close

Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at an October press conference that Iran will not back down on its nuclear program.

Story highlights

  • IAEA and Iran close to an agreement, nuclear watchdog chief says
  • Iran calls the talks "constructive" but does not address access to Parchin
  • Prof. Fereydoun Abbasi Davani is among those being slapped with sanctions
  • Abbasi Davani, the head of Iran atomic agency, survived a bomb that Iran blamed on Israel

The head of a U.N. nuclear watchdog group said Friday a deal with Iran over its nuclear program is likely in January, an agreement that will also allow inspectors to gain access to a military complex where Tehran is believed to be testing nuclear materials.

The news followed reports that the International Atomic Energy Agency wrapped one-day talks in Iran over its nuclear program, widely suspected by the United States and other Western nations as a front for the country's development of nuclear weapons -- a charge Iran has repeatedly denied.

"We have agreed to meet again on 16 January next year, where we expect to finalize the structured approach and start implementing it then shortly after that," IAEA chief inspector Herman Nackaerts told reporters after returning to Vienna, Austria.

Read more: CNN Fact Check: Iran and the Bomb

The talks between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were aimed at jump-starting negotiations, while allowing agency inspectors to gain access to a military complex where Tehran is suspected of testing nuclear materials.

Access to the Parchin military complex, just outside Tehran, is a key element in the negotiations.

    Just Watched

    Sanctions hamper Iran's economy

Sanctions hamper Iran's economy 04:31
PLAY VIDEO

    Just Watched

    How sanctions hurt Iran

How sanctions hurt Iran 02:35
PLAY VIDEO

    Just Watched

    Iran's assault on civil society

Iran's assault on civil society 06:35
PLAY VIDEO

"We have not been given access to Parchin this time. But as you know access to Parchin is part of the structured approach, and we hope as I said that we will implement that shortly," Nackaerts said.

    Read more: U.N. watchdog: Iran makes significant nuclear steps

    Iran's liaison to IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, characterized the talks as constructive, according to state-run news agency IRNA. The report stopped short of saying whether the talks included discussion about investigators getting access to Parchin, which was requested at a meeting in November in Vienna, Austria.

    The next round of talks were scheduled for January 16, Soltanieh told IRNA. The IAEA also confirmed the talks would continue on that day.

    The United States, meanwhile, slapped new sanctions on Iran on Thursday, targeting a handful of companies and individuals it says are providing materials and technology to Tehran's nuclear program.

    The sanctions, announced by the U.S. State and Treasury departments, are the latest to target Iran's economy as well as its ability to develop nuclear material.

    Read more: U.N. nuclear agency expresses 'serious concern' about Iran nuke activity

    The sanctions were essential "given Iran's continued intransigence on its nuclear program," said Victoria Nuland, the U.S. State Department spokeswoman.

    Among the targets of the latest sanctions is Prof. Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, the head of the Iran Atomic Energy Organization.

    Abbasi Davani and his wife survived a car bomb two years ago that Tehran has blamed on Israel. At least four scientists associated with Iran's nuclear program have been killed since 2010.

    The companies being targeted with sanctions: FaraTech, the Neda Industrial Group, Aria Nikan Marine Industry, Towled Abzar Boreshi, Iran Pouya, Terjerat Gostar and Tarh O Palayesh.

    Read more: Inspection at Iran nuclear facility finds higher-level traces of uranium, U.N. says

    The sanctions freeze the companies' assets and prohibit business dealings in or with the United States. Companies and banks that defy the U.S. sanctions could be cut off from the U.S. financial system, the State and Treasury departments said.

    Iran maintains its nuclear program is for civilian energy purposes only. But the IAEA has said it cannot verify whether the intent of the program is for peaceful means.

    A number of Western nations have placed economic and arms-related sanctions on Iran since November 2010 when the IAEA said Tehran was pursuing technology that could be used to build nuclear weapons.

    Since then, Iran has been hit by the United States and the European Union with an oil embargo as well as sanctions targeting its banks and number of its businesses.

        CNN Recommends

      • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

        As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
      • Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
      • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

        Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
      • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

        It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.