Baghdad: Iran and world powers geared up on Tuesday for talks aimed at defusing the dangerously escalating crisis over Tehran's nuclear programme, as the UN atomic agency voiced hopes of a deal on more cooperation.

Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, who has refused to rule out bombing Iran, meanwhile warned the P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany -- not to show "weakness" in Wednesday's talks in Baghdad.

Yukiya Amano, International Atomic Energy Agency head, said on returning from Tehran on Tuesday that he and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator had made a "decision" to reach an agreement on it probing suspected weapons activities.

Israel and much of the international community fear that Iran's nuclear activities, which have expanded considerably in recent years, are cover for a drive for a weapons capability, something Tehran denies.

Addressing accusations in a major IAEA report from November that until 2003, and possibly since, Iran did work "relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device" is a key -- but not the only -- demand of the P5+1.

But contrary to the hopes of some diplomats before he left on Sunday, Amano failed to actually sign a deal, saying at Vienna airport that this would happen "soon" and speaking of remaining "differences."

"At this stage I can say it will be signed quite soon, but I cannot say how soon it will be. In a few days it will be clarified," Amano said.

One Western diplomat told AFP that there had been "no breakthrough." Another said the trip appeared disappointing but that they were waiting for a "clearer picture" at meetings in Vienna later on Tuesday.


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