First Published: 2013-01-16

 

IAEA in new bid to resolve long-running differences with Iran

 

Agency wants Iran to respond to what it calls ‘credible’ evidence of nuclear weapons research having been carried out until 2003.

 

Middle East Online

IAEA's hopes of reaching deal not high

TEHRAN - Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were back in Tehran early Wednesday to try to resolve differences with Iran over its controversial nuclear programme.

The eight-strong team, led by the UN agency's chief atomic inspector and deputy director Herman Nackaerts, was greeted at the airport by Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, the ISNA news agency reported.

It was not clear who would represent Iran in meetings on Wednesday, but the office of top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili is in charge of decisions regarding Tehran's atomic programme -- on behalf of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who has final say on all key state matters.

On Tuesday, before flying out from the agency's base in Vienna, Nackaerts had called on Iran to be "constructive".

"Throughout this process, the director general has always said that we are approaching these talks in a constructive spirit," he told reporters.

"Also this time we are approaching it in the same spirit, and we trust that Iran will work with us in the same spirit," he added.

But the IAEA's hopes of reaching a deal are not high.

IAEA head Yukiya Amano said Friday he was "not necessarily optimistic," while a Western diplomat said on Sunday "there still remain some pretty big disagreements" with Tehran.

The agency wants Iran to respond to what it calls "overall, credible" evidence of nuclear weapons research having been carried out until 2003 -- and possibly since then.

Iran vehemently denies having ever sought an atomic bomb.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday that the government hoped to conclude a comprehensive agreement with the IAEA on Wednesday.

But Ramin Mehmanparast said that would only be possible if the agency recognised Iran's "nuclear rights."

Mehmanparast appeared to play down the chances that the IAEA team might get access to

Parchin, a military base near Tehran where the agency's experts suspect Iran could have carried out experiments with explosives capable of triggering a nuclear weapon.

"Parchin has no connection with Iran's nuclear activities," Mehmanparast said. Access to it could be discussed, but only in the context of a possible agreement, he added.

But the IAEA has pointed to new information uncovered since its last visits to the site in 2005.

They include satellite evidence that the earth has been scraped and removed over a 25-hectare (62-acre) area, leading to Western accusations that Iran is destroying evidence.

Wednesday's talks will be closely monitored by the so-called P5+1 group -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany. Their parallel negotiations with Tehran over the nuclear programme are currently stalled.

At their last meeting, held in June 2012 in Moscow, Tehran rejected P5+1 calls for it to scale back its nuclear enrichment activities, while asking for substantial sanctions relief.

Iran's economy is struggling to cope with punitive measures adopted by the US and the EU targeting its vital oil income and access to global financial systems.

On Tuesday, top lawmaker Aladin Boroujerdi repeated Tehran's demands, ISNA reported.

"The main focus of the next talks with the P5+1 should be on lifting the sanctions imposed by the US and the European Union," said Boroujerdi, who heads parliament's influential foreign policy committee.

Mehmanparast added on Tuesday that a much-debated religious decree against nuclear weapons by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was binding.

"The fatwa is of utmost importance in clarifying Iran's nuclear activities," he said, dismissing Western doubts that the fatwa only served a religious purpose and was not necessarily an obligation for the government.

 

Syria regime, Kurds blast Turkish incursion

Kerry heads to Saudi on Yemen peace push

Libya parliament rejects Sarraj’s unity government

Hajj stoning to be shortened after deadly stampede

Muslim women say swimsuit uproar is 'absurd'

Syria rebels backed by Turkey tanks 'seize' Jarabulus

Libya's presidential council to present new cabinet

Biden: Washington told Kurds not to cross Euphrates

Israeli court shuns plea to unchain Palestinian hunger striker

Saudi police foil mosque suicide bombing

Kerry to meet Russia's Lavrov in Geneva on Friday

Kurdish forces in Syria prime target for Turkey

Drone strike kills 2 Qaeda suspects in Yemen

Iran yet to decide on OPEC limits

Iraq forces advance south of Mosul

Gaza animals leave 'world's worst' zoo

Hasakeh: key flashpoint for Syria regime, Kurds

British woman killed in Australian stabbing

Turkey launches operation to clear Syria border town from IS

Israel raids West Bank arms factories

Morocco posts fall in foreign tourist arrivals

Turkey cuts interest rates defying inflation jump

Syria regime, Kurds agree Hasakeh truce

Iran says it requested Russian strikes on Aleppo

Turkey shells IS positions in Syria

UN braces for massive flight from Mosul

Sudanese migrant killed in Calais clashes

Palestinian suspect in police killings beaten to death

Iraq forces launch push to retake town south of Mosul

UN aid chief warns of 'unparalleled' catastrophe in Aleppo

Prominent Morocco Islamists rapped over 'sex on beach'

Yemen army looks to break Taez siege amid deadly battles

Jordan to allow more Syrian children access to education

Tunisia parliament sets date for unity government vote

Iraq forces foil attack by teenage bomber

Israel launches 'dozens' of Gaza strikes

Russian stops using Iran airbase for raids on IS in Syria

Turkey says Syria border region must be 'cleansed' of IS jihadists

Turkey authorities scramble to identify child bomber

Libya forces seize more IS ground in Sirte

Sisi says Putin ready to revive Palestine/Israel talks

Jihadist asks Malians for 'forgiveness' for Timbuktu attacks

Iran criticize Russia’s ‘show off’ on airbase use

Ennahda 'has reservations' on Tunisia unity govt

In sharp reversal, Trump pitches softer line on immigration