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UN, Iran reach inspection deal: IAEA chief

VIENNA -- Despite some remaining differences, a deal has been reached with Iran that will allow the U.N. nuclear agency to restart a long-stalled probe into suspicions that Tehran has secretly worked on developing nuclear arms, the U.N. nuclear chief said Tuesday.

The news from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano, who returned from Tehran on Tuesday, comes just a day before Iran and six world powers meet in Baghdad for negotiations and could present a significant turning point in the heated dispute over Iran's nuclear intentions. The six nations hope the talks will result in an agreement by the Islamic Republic to stop enriching uranium to a higher level that could be turned quickly into the fissile core of nuclear arms.

Iran denies it seeks nuclear arms and says its reactors are only for power and medical applications.

By compromising on the IAEA probe, Iranian negotiators in Baghdad could argue that the onus was now on the other side to show some flexibility and temper its demands. Although Amano's trip and the talks in Baghdad are formally separate, Iran hopes progress with the IAEA can boost its chances Wednesday in pressing the U.S. and Europe to roll back sanctions that have hit Iran's critical oil exports and blacklisted the country from international banking networks.

It was unclear, though, how far the results achieved by Amano would serve that purpose, with him returning without the two sides signing the deal, despite his upbeat comments.

After talks in Tehran between Amano and chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, “the decision was made ... to reach agreement” on the mechanics of giving the IAEA access to sites, scientists and documents it seeks to restart its probe,” Amano told reporters at Vienna airport after his one-day trip to Tehran.

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