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UN agency chief questions Iran deal

TOKYO — The head of the UN nuclear agency said Friday that he is uncertain whether Iran will agree to allow his agency to restart an inquiry ­into Tehran’s suspected secret nuclear arms program.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano said the likelihood of an agreement at talks next week ­‘‘remains unclear.’’

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IAEA officials reported some progress after their previous meeting in December, citing the possibility of resuming its inquiry early this year following another round of talks Jan. 16.

‘‘Negotiating with Iran is quite a challenge,’’ he said. ‘‘A step forward doesn’t necessarily lead to another step forward. After making a step forward, there could be two steps backward, or even three steps backward,’’ Amano said. ‘‘We don’t know if we can resolve the remaining.’’

Amano is in Japan for talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Amano said resolving Iran’s suspected atomic program is among his top missions as IAEA chief.

‘‘I hope to peacefully resolve Iran’s suspected atomic program through diplomatic effort,’’ he said.

Officials said last month experts were expected to be allowed into Parchin military base, to investigate suspicions it might have been used in secret arms-related experiments, but Iran has not agreed to a key IAEA request — a visit to a site linked to suspected nuclear weapons research.

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