A senior Iranian official expressed hope on Wednesday that his country and the UN nuclear watchdog would soon be able to seal a framework agreement to resume a stalled investigation into Tehran's disputed atomic activities.
Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh spoke two days before he is due to meet senior UN nuclear agency officials in Vienna in an attempt to finalise the accord aimed at unblocking the agency's probe into suspected atomic bomb research in the Islamic state.
Western diplomats say they doubt that Iran, which they often accuse of seeking to buy time for its nuclear program, will implement any accord that it signs with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Vienna-based UN watchdog.
Iran denies Western allegations that its nuclear program is a covert bid to develop the capability to make nuclear arms.
"We have decided to work with the agency ... to prove that those allegations ... are forged and fabricated. That is exactly what we are going to do," Soltanieh told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of the IAEA's 35-nation board.
Iranian officials have made clear that only after reaching this kind of deal will they consider allowing inspectors to visit the Parchin military site, where the IAEA suspects Iran built a steel containment vessel in which to carry out the explosives tests.
Soltanieh said good progress had been made in previous meetings with the IAEA on trying to agree a so-called "structured approach" on how to deal with the agency's questions.
"We will try to continue to work on the text of the structured approach. Hopefully we will be able to conclude it in a way that it will be ... a good basis for our work in the future," Soltanieh said.
Asked whether he believed it could be signed on Friday, he said: "I'm always (an) optimist and I hope that the agency also takes into serious consideration our concerns."
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