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.

 

Iran warns Saudi Arabia over possible ground action in Syria

Somalia recaptures key port of Merka from Shebab

Iran reverses mass ban on candidates for parliamentary polls

New photos reveal serious abuse of Iraq prisoners in US facilities

Thousands of Syria refugees brave bad weather at border with Turkey

Egypt returns body of Italian student Giulio Regeni

EU reminds Turkey: Keep your border open to Syria refugees

Palestinian journalist to keep up hunger strike

Iraq’s Sistani to end weekly political sermons

Shebab fighters recapture key port in Somalia

Syria regime forces close in on Daraa

Israeli leaders slam Arab MPs, refuse to return Palestinian corpses

IS jihadists rise in Libya, drop in Iraq and Syria

World powers pledge $10 billion to help war-hit Syrians

Morocco king inaugurates first solar power plant

Saudi ready to send ground troops to Syria

Israel charges cop for exposing woman's ID

Russia accuses Turkey of preparing to invade Syria

Syria talks were an inevitable failure

Saudi says Iranian pilgrims still welcome

Italy demands truth from Egypt over slain student

Fear stalks Libya's Sirte

US adds $890 million to Syria humanitarian aid effort

Tunisia lifts nationwide curfew

Two Israelis jailed for burning Palestinian teen alive

Sweden expects 100,000 asylum seekers in 2016

Turkey refuses access to Russian flight as Aleppo bombardment continues

40,000 Syrians flee Assad regime's Aleppo offensive

US implicitly blames Russia for collapse of Syria peace talks

Rome summons Egypt’s ambassador over student’s death

Israeli forces lock down West Bank town

Two Algerians 'linked to IS' arrested in Germany

Assad regime accused of undermining Syria peace talks

Top Qaeda chief killed in Yemen drone attack

EU agrees on details of Turkey refugee deal as Italy drops objections

Iraq air force receives second batch of F-16 fighter jets

Syria army secures major battlefield victory as peace push falters

Blast on Somalia airliner ‘points to bomb’

In ‘lightening’ raid, Lebanon kills, arrests 22 ISIS members

Three Palestinians, one Israeli killed in Jerusalem

Turkish court acquits academic over 'terrorist propaganda'

Syrian opposition chief arrives in Geneva to join troubled peace talks

Nigeria president warns of Libya ‘time bomb’ for Africa and Europe

Loyalists kill three Qaeda suspects in southern Yemen

Iran, Germany agree on need to cooperate against ‘terrorism’