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Iran, IAEA to Launch New Push to End Nuclear Standoff

Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency are set at a Wednesday meeting to initiate the latest and potentially last international effort to peacefully resolve a long-running standoff over the nation's atomic activities, Agence France-Presse reported on Monday.

Officials would gather in Tehran to again discuss a possible arrangement for conducting a U.N. probe into possible military elements of Iran's atomic activities. Agency Director General Yuikiya Amano on Friday said he was "not necessarily optimistic" about the upcoming discussion with Tehran, which insists its nuclear ambitions are purely peaceful.

Iran might intend to wrap up the session before replying to a proposal by six major governments to convene a separate gathering this month. Iranian diplomats held three high-level meetings last year with counterparts from China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States in an effort to address global fears that Tehran's nuclear program is intended to support development of an arms capacity.

A Western envoy said "it doesn’t seem likely that an agreement will be reached."

"Despite Iran's statements to the contrary and the IAEA's previous cautious optimism, there still remain some pretty big disagreements," the official told AFP.

Meanwhile, a press claim tying Iran to computer-based strikes against U.S. banks has prompted a statement of rejection from Tehran's delegation to the United Nations, AFP reported separately on Friday.

Elsewhere, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has accused successor Benjamin Netanyahu of inappropriately spending roughly $3 billion on steps to ready his nation to conduct an offensive against Iran that did not occur, Reuters reported on Sunday

Netanyahu on Sunday described Olmert's comment as "a strange and irresponsible statement."

"I will not specify the sums of our defense expenditure," the leader told army radio.

The strategic Strait of Hormuz has again been the site of practice maneuvers conducted by Iran's Revolutionary Guard, the state-run Fars News Agency reported on Sunday. Iranian lawmakers and officials have previously indicated that blocking access to the strait could be one response to heightened sanctions against their nation.

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