OSLO (Reuters) - Iran is cooperating with U.N. nuclear inspectors seeking answers about detonators that could be used to help set off an atomic explosive device, part of a wider investigation into Tehran's activities, their chief said on Wednesday.
Iran agreed late last year to grant inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) greater access to nuclear-related sites and to provide more information about its atomic programme, which it says is for purely peaceful purposes.
Under the framework deal, Iran also agreed to start addressing suspicions that it may have worked on designing an atomic weapon - a potential breakthrough in a long-stalled investigation into suspected bomb research by Tehran.
By mid-May, Iran is supposed to provide information to the IAEA about its need or application for the development of so-called Exploding Bridge Wire detonators.
These fast-functioning detonators have some non-nuclear uses, but can also help set off an atomic device.
Asked about implementation of the deal, IAEA director general Yukiya Amano said: "We are working on it and they are cooperative."
"Our people in the safeguards department are having close contact with them," he told Reuters during a seminar in Oslo.
Amano also said Iran was implementing last year's interim nuclear deal with six world powers as planned.
The U.N. body has a pivotal role in checking that Iran is complying with the November 24 deal, whereby it agreed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for the easing of some sanctions.
"I can tell you, these measures (in the deal with the six powers) are being implemented as planned," said Amano.
The IAEA's and the powers' talks with Iran are separate but still closely linked as both are focused on easing fears that Tehran may be seeking the capability to produce atomic bombs.
Amano spoke as negotiators from Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia met for a second day in Vienna as part of efforts to hammer out a long-term settlement of the nuclear dispute by July 20.
The IAEA issues monthly updates to member states about the implementation of the accord with the powers that entered into force on January 20. The next update is expected around April 20.
"The problem of Iran is assuring that declared activities and material are staying in peaceful purpose," Amano, a veteran Japanese diplomat, said.
"We need more tools to verify that all the activities in Iran are for peaceful purposes. That will take time to implement."
(Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Gareth Jones)