Following his talks in Tehran earlier this week, UN watchdog chief Yukiya Amano said, "Progress was made on the way forward, but more work is needed."

"With the cooperation from Iran, I think we can issue a report by the end of the year on the ... clarification of the issues related to possible military dimensions," Amano told reporters before heading into talks with global powers in Vienna.

His comments could mark a breakthrough in one of the thorniest issues still blocking an agreement with Iranian leaders after almost two years of intense negotiations.

Both Iran and United States have said that the talks are in the endgame, as they inch towards a deal. But Iran has long denied accusations that it has sought to develop a nuclear bomb and has so far refused to give UN inspectors access to sensitive military sites to verify its

The standoff has stalled a probe by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) into the allegations that before 2003, and possibly since, Iran conducted research work into developing nuclear weapons. Iran says the accusations are based on bogus intelligence provided to a gullible and partial IAEA by the CIA and Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.

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