U.N. and Iran agree to keep talking on nuclear

VIENNA Tue May 15, 2012 7:58pm EDT

1 of 4. Iran's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh arrives at the Iranian Anbassy for a meeting with IAEA officials in Vienna May 14, 2012. Two previous rounds of talks in Tehran early this year failed to make any notable progress, especially on the IAEA's request for access to a military site where it believes nuclear weapons-relevant research may have taken place.

Credit: Reuters/Leonhard Foeger

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VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran and the U.N. nuclear watchdog ended two days of talks on Tuesday by agreeing to meet again next week, just two days before Tehran resumes negotiations with world powers concerned it may be seeking to develop atomic bomb capability.

While both sides were upbeat about the discussions, which will continue on Monday, there was no word on whether the U.N. agency had made progress towards one of its main aims - to secure access to a suspect military site near Tehran.

"We had a good exchange of views and we will meet again on Monday," International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Deputy Director General Herman Nackaerts told reporters at the Iranian diplomatic mission in Vienna where the meeting took place.

Standing next to him, Iranian Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh was more positive. "We had fruitful discussions in a very conducive environment. We have had progress," he said.

Neither side gave details about the content of the talks and they did not say if they discussed Iran allowing U.N. inspectors to visit the Parchin military site where the watchdog suspects nuclear bomb-relevant research has been carried out.

Western diplomats, watching the meeting for any sign Iran is ready to make concrete concessions ahead of the encounter in Baghdad next week, were not convinced.

"It is too early to say whether progress was made. There are apparently some serious sticking points," said one, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"The onus remains on Iran to address the agency's - and international community's - concerns about its nuclear program."

The IAEA had hoped to secure agreement on access to Iranian sites, documents and officials involved in suspected development work that could be put to use producing nuclear explosives.

Two previous rounds of talks in Tehran this year with U.N. inspectors failed to make any notable progress, especially on their request to go to Parchin.

CONCRETE ACTION

Iran and the powers involved in nuclear diplomacy - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - revived negotiations in Istanbul last month after a 15-month hiatus during which the West cranked up sanctions to unprecedented levels - targeting Iran's oil trade and banks.

The resumption of diplomacy offers a chance to defuse that tension as well as worries about a new Middle East war.

Israel, widely believed to hold the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, has, like the United States, not ruled out military action to stop Iran's nuclear progress if it deems diplomacy has failed.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Iran had yet to show it was "willing to take concrete action to address concerns about possible military dimensions of its nuclear program, which is what we will look for in Baghdad."

A step-by-step process "should start with steps by Iran to build confidence in its nuclear activities," he told parliament.

The IAEA, the U.N. agency tasked with preventing the spread of nuclear arms, said before the meeting that its priority was to visit Parchin where Iran may have conducted high-explosives tests relevant for developing atomic arms capability.

"The primary focus of our discussions was how to clarify issues related to possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program," Nackaerts said.

The parties considered options for taking the "agency verification process forward in a structured way," he said.

Iran, which rejects Western accusations it is seeking nuclear weapons, has resisted previous requests by the IAEA to go to the Parchin complex, southeast of Tehran.

An IAEA report last November found that Iran had built a large containment vessel there in 2000 to conduct tests that the U.N. agency said were "strong indicators of possible (nuclear) weapon development".

Western diplomats say they suspect Iran is cleaning the Parchin site to remove incriminating evidence.

One envoy told Reuters he had seen satellite imagery showing vehicles near the place the IAEA wants to see, and an apparent stream of water coming from the building.

Iran's Foreign Ministry has dismissed the allegations, saying nuclear activities cannot be washed away.

A Vienna-based expert who declined to be identified said it would be difficult, but not impossible, to clean possible traces of uranium or substitute materials from a site.

A Western priority is for Iran to halt the higher-grade uranium enrichment work it started two years ago and has since expanded, potentially shortening the time needed to build a bomb.

Refined uranium can be used to fuel nuclear power plants, which is Iran's stated goal, or provide material for bombs if processed further, which the West suspects is the country's ultimate intention.

(Additional reporting by Adrian Croft in London; Editing by)

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Comments (11)
kenradke11 wrote:
Not going to work. I guarantee you readers that Iran is going to be just as defiant and war will come. The USA and its allies are already putting into place their military might and Iran will come under a defensive attack!

May 15, 2012 7:21am EDT  --  Report as abuse
usa.wi.vet.4q wrote:
This is a waste of time. Iran will continue making nuclear weapons since the UN has no way to stop it. Then we will see just how far these so called “clerics” want to take this issue. Better rest up the troops since I believe I’m-A-Damn-Nut-Job really does want to attack Israel.

May 15, 2012 10:21am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Brazilian1 wrote:
An important lesson from History (by Wikipedia, but you can check elsewhere):

“Prior to leaving the Führerbau, Chamberlain requested a private conference with Hitler, which the German leader agreed to, and the two met at Hitler’s flat in the city later that morning. Chamberlain urged restraint in the implementation of the agreement, and requested that the Germans not bomb Prague if the Czechs resisted, to which Hitler seemed agreeable. Chamberlain took from his pocket a paper headed “Anglo–German Agreement”, which contained three paragraphs, including a statement that the two nations considered the Munich Agreement “symbolic of the desire of our two people never to go to war again”. According to Chamberlain, Hitler interjected “Ja! Ja!” (“Yes! Yes!”) as the Prime Minister read it.[121] The two men signed the paper then and there. When, later that day, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop remonstrated with Hitler for signing it, the Führer replied, “Oh, don’t take it so seriously. That piece of paper is of no further significance whatever.”[122] Chamberlain, on the other hand, when he returned to his hotel for lunch, patted his breast pocket and said, “I’ve got it!”[123] Word leaked as to the outcome of the meetings before Chamberlain’s return, causing delight among many in London, though gloom amongst Churchill and his adherents.[124]
Chamberlain returned to London in triumph. Large crowds mobbed Heston, where he was met by the Lord Chamberlain, the Earl of Clarendon, who gave him a letter from King George VI, assuring him of the Empire’s lasting gratitude and urging him to come straight to Buckingham Palace to report.[125] The streets were so packed with cheering people that it took Chamberlain an hour and a half to journey the nine miles from Heston to the Palace. After reporting to the King, Chamberlain and his wife appeared on the Palace balcony with the King and his wife, Queen Elizabeth. He then went to Downing Street, where both the street and the front hall of Number 10 were packed.[126] As he headed upstairs to address the crowd from a first-floor window, someone called to him, “Neville, go up to the window and say ‘peace in our time’.”[127] Chamberlain turned around and responded, “No, I don’t do that sort of thing.”[127] Nevertheless, Chamberlain recalled the words of his predecessor, Benjamin Disraeli and his return from the Congress of Berlin[128] in his statement to the crowd:

My good friends, this is the second time there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Now I recommend you go home, and sleep quietly in your beds.[127]”

Any resemblance with the present situation?

May 15, 2012 11:24am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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