10 January 2008The head of the United Nations atomic watchdog agency begins two days of talks with high-level Iranian officials in Tehran tomorrow in a bid to speed up a resolution of outstanding issues over the country’s nuclear programme. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei’s visit is his latest move to clarify aspects of the programme, which many countries see as an effort to produce nuclear weapons but which Iran says is solely for the peaceful purpose of producing energy. “During the trip, Dr. ElBaradei hopes to develop ways and means to enhance and accelerate implementation of safeguards in Iran, with an aim of resolving remaining outstanding issues,” the IAEA said in a news release. “Dr. ElBaradei also welcomes the visit as a chance to enable the IAEA to provide assurance about Iran’s past and present nuclear activities.” The crisis began with the discovery in 2003 that Iran had concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and the Security Council has since imposed a series of sanctions, with members considering further action. Mr. ElBaradei has repeatedly noted that while the IAEA has not seen any diversion of material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, it also cannot conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran.