VIENNA: Global powers negotiating with Iran have drawn up a system which will give the UN atomic watchdog access to all suspect Iranian sites, a senior US official said Monday.
"We have worked out a process that we believe will ensure that the IAEA has the access it needs," the administration official told reporters.
"The entry point isn't we must be able to get into every military site, because the United States of America wouldn't allow anybody to get into every military site, so that's not appropriate," the official said.
If the system is agreed to by Iran, then it could mark a potential breakthrough in months of negotiations with the Islamic republic which has refused to give the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to sensitive sites.
"There are conventional purposes, and there are secrets that any country has that they are not willing to share," the official said.
"But if in the context of this agreement... the IAEA believes that it needs access and has a reason for that access, then we have a process to ensure that that is given," the official said.
Iran has denied seeking to arm itself with nuclear weapons, but the IAEA has so far been unable to verify that its atomic programme is entirely peaceful.
The US official, who asked not to be named, said Washington had long insisted that if the IAEA felt it needed access to a suspect site "then they should be able to get it".
"If that happens to be a military site then that should be available," the official said, adding the IAEA had an "institutional responsibility" to explore what the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear programme may have been.
Kerry says 'too early' to tell if Iran deal sealed
US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Monday it was too soon to tell if a nuclear deal with Iran is possible as he awaited the return of Iran's foreign minister from consultations in Tehran.
"We're just working and it's too early to make any judgements," Kerry told reporters in Vienna following a weekend of intense talks with counterparts from five other major powers and Iran.
He was meeting with Yukiya Amano, the head of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which will have a crucial role in verifying Iran's claims that its nuclear programme is purely peaceful and also to make sure it does not cheat in the future.
More contentiously, the IAEA wants to investigate claims that before 2003 and possibly since Iran carried out nuclear weapons development work -- something denied by Iran -- and to be able to probe any such claims in the future.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, speaking in New York, said he would be back in the Austrian capital this week. It was unclear when his British, German or Chinese counterparts might follow suit.
In April, Iran and the P5+1 group -- the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany -- agreed on the main outlines of a deal hoping to end a 13-year standoff over Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Under the framework, Iran will dramatically scale down its atomic activities in order to make any drive to make a weapon -- an ambition it denies having -- all but impossible.
This includes slashing the number of centrifuges enriching uranium, which can be used for nuclear fuel but also in a bomb, reducing its uranium stockpile and modifying a planned reactor at Arak.
In return, the powers have said they will progressively ease sanctions that have suffocated Iran's economy, while retaining the option to reimpose them if Iran violates the agreement.