TEHRAN/OTTAWA  - Iran is ready to discuss issues of “concern” about its disputed nuclear programme with UN atomic watchdog experts during their planned visit to Tehran this week, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

The visit by International Atomic Energy Agency experts on Thursday will focus on discussions regarding “Iran’s nuclear rights as well as its peaceful nuclear activities,” ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told a weekly briefing.

But “certain issues that have possibly become a source of concern for (IAEA) officials can also be discussed,” Mehmanparast said, without elaborating.

The IAEA has urged Iran over the past year to clarify a number of issues that could point to a possible covert military dimension in Iran’s nuclear activities.

The watchdog has also tried in vain to gain access to Parchin military base near Tehran, where it suspects that experiments with explosives capable of triggering a nuclear weapon could have been carried out.

Tehran says its nuclear work is purely civilian, vehemently denying charges that its programme has a military objective. Iran also stresses that IAEA demands to visit Parchin exceed the obligations it has to meet as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. “Iran hopes the talks will lead to Iran enjoying its complete nuclear rights and to removing concerns of the agency,” Mehmanparast added.

The resumption of talks with the IAEA comes after several meetings since the start of 2012, all unsuccessful.

According to the agency, the aim of the talks in Tehran is to sign an agreement on a “structured approach” giving IAEA inspectors broader access to sites, including Parchin, and individuals working in Iran’s nuclear programme. IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said at the end of November that “if there is a political will on the part of Iran, we have a chance ... to reach an agreement.”

Meanwhile, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced more sanctions against Iran Tuesday, ramping up pressure on Tehran to scrap its nuclear program. “Despite intensive efforts by the international community to engage Iran on its nuclear program, the Iranian regime refuses to comply with its international obligations, cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency, or enter into meaningful negotiations,” Baird said.

And so, he added, “Canada is taking further action against the Iranian regime by expanding sanctions.”

He said 98 more people and organizations with ties to the Iranian regime will be subject to an assets freeze and a prohibition on economic dealings, bringing the total number of persons affected by sanctions to 50 and entities to 433.

The move is part of an apparent coordinated effort by Western governments to isolate Iran in the absence of further multilateral UN sanctions. Western powers have demanded that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment program, fearing that Tehran would use the material to build a nuclear bomb.