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UN nuclear agency makes progress with Iran investigation

The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency expects to resume its stalled investigation of Iran's nuclear program as early as next month.

iaea team vienna iranEnlarge
IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Safeguards Herman M.G. Nackaerts (R) and his team leave on another trip to Iran on December 12, 2012 at Schwechat Airport, near Vienna. (DIETER NAGL/AFP/Getty Images)

The UN's nuclear watchdog said Friday that it expects to resume its stalled investigation of Iran's nuke program as early as next month. 

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) delegation head Herman Nackaerts said that though he and his team failed to gain access to Parchin military complex in Tehran during a visit on Thursday, they had made progress in restarting their probe. 

"We had good meetings," Nackaerts told reporters at Vienna airport, according to Reuters. "We expect to finalize the structured approach [at a meeting January 16] and start implementing it then shortly after that." 

Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, also confirmed that their meetings had been productive, according to Al Jazeera

The agency believes that Iran has been conducting nuclear explosives tests at the facility, and has been attempting to investigate several sites in Iran that may be contributing to the weaponization of the country's nuclear program. 

More from GlobalPost: IAEA seeks access to Iran's Parchin military base to look for evidence of nuclear testing

The IAEA visited Parchin twice in 2005, but has accused Tehran of cleaning up the sprawling military base to hide evidence of its nuclear weapons research — which Iran has consistently denied, Agence France Presse reported.

Talks between the UN agency and Iran have been difficult and largely unproductive in the past. Nut these meetings, the first between the two parties since August, show Iran may be more willing to address the IAEA's concerns, Al Jazeera reported. 

“We also hope that Iran will allow us to go to the site of Parchin, and if Iran would grant us access we would welcome that chance and we are ready to go," said Nackaerts, according to AFP. 

The US imposed more sanctions against Iran on Thursday, targeting seven Iranian companies and five individuals that it believes are supporting Iran's nuclear development, Al Jazeera reported. 

More from GlobalPost: IAEA: Iran doubled production capacity at Fordo nuclear site

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/iran/121214/un-nuclear-agency-progress-iran-investigation