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UN's nuclear agency, Iran begin critical meeting ahead of Baghdad talks

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Leonhard Foeger/REUTERS

(Read caption) Iran's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh arrives at the Iranian Anbassy for a meeting with IAEA officials in Vienna May 14. Two previous rounds of talks in Tehran early this year failed to make any notable progress, especially on the IAEA's request for access to a military site where it believes nuclear weapons-relevant research may have taken place.

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Iranian officials arrived in Vienna today to meet International Atomic Energy Agency officials in preparation for next week's Baghdad meeting on its nuclear program.

A senior United Nations official told Reuters at the outset of the meeting today that Iran must give IAEA inspectors access to information on its nuclear program and that this meeting will be a test of its "readiness" to discuss concerns about possible military elements of its nuclear program at the critical Baghdad meeting with the group known as P5 + 1 (The United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany). 

Bloomberg reports that the IAEA's request for access to Iran's Parchin military complex – rejected by Iran in February – may top the agenda. In a November 2011 IAEA report, the agency pointed to information from a member state that indicated Iran may have tested elements of a nuclear weapon at the complex. The agency last visited Parchin in 2004.

RELATED: 5 key Iranian nuclear sites

Based on satellite imagery of Parchin from early April, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said last week that Iran may be erasing evidence of nuclear weapons work at the facility. Images show "unidentified items lined up outside a rectangular building and what appears to be water flowing out of the structure," according to Bloomberg. Paul Brannan and David Albright of ISIS wrote that the cleanup may be preparation for a requested IAEA visit. 

Reuters adds that satellite images from previous months did not show "any similar activity... indicating it is not a regular occurrence."

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