Iranian Leader Rejects Probe of Alleged Nuke Weapons Work

VIENNA (AP) -

The U.S. may have to soften demands that any nuclear deal with Iran give U.N. experts a free hand to investigate possible past nuclear arms works by Tehran, after Iran’s supreme leader stridently ruled out cooperation Wednesday.

The move came just weeks ahead of a June deadline for a nuclear deal. The West insists that a ruling by the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency on the allegations about past activities, based on full Iranian cooperation with an IAEA probe, is essential to be able to understand Tehran’s present nuclear activities. The U.S. and its allies have conditioned full lifting of sanctions on Iran’s willingness to help with the investigation.

Attempts to investigate the allegations by the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency have been essentially stalemated for almost a decade. Still, Washington and its allies had hoped that as the nuclear deal emerges with its promise of sanctions relief for Iran, it would soften Tehran’s resistance.

Instead, Iran appeared to be digging in, as nuclear experts from Iran, the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany resumed negotiations in Vienna on a deal.

The latest Iranian stance is likely to be criticized by U.S. Senate opponents of the Iran talks and Israel as further evidence that Washington is softening its demands on Tehran for the sake of achieving a deal.