Iran, U.N. nuclear agency to resume talks in December

VIENNA Fri Nov 9, 2012 3:58pm EST

Iran's Head of Atomic Energy Organization Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani reacts as he attends a news conference during the 56th IAEA General Conference at the UN headquarters in Vienna September 17, 2012. REUTERS/Herwig Prammer

Iran's Head of Atomic Energy Organization Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani reacts as he attends a news conference during the 56th IAEA General Conference at the UN headquarters in Vienna September 17, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Herwig Prammer

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VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran will return to talks with the U.N. nuclear agency next month, both sides said on Friday, the latest push to seek a peaceful end to a dispute that has raised fears of a new Middle East war.

The news came days after U.S. President Barack Obama's re-election, which some analysts say may give fresh impetus to efforts to end a decade-old standoff with a country the West accuses of working towards a nuclear weapons capability.

In a reminder of how tensions could escalate, the Pentagon said on Thursday that Iranian warplanes had fired at a U.S. drone in international airspace last week and Iran said it had chased off an "unidentified" aircraft that had crossed its borders.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it hoped the talks in Tehran on December 13 would produce an agreement to allow it to resume a long-stalled investigation into possible military aspects of Iran's nuclear program.

The agency says it has "credible information indicating that Iran had carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device" and wants Tehran to give it access to sites, officials and documents to clarify the issue.

Iran denies it wants nuclear bombs and has repeatedly ruled out stopping its atomic activities.

A series of meetings since early this year, the last one in August, failed to make concrete progress.

Israel, assumed to be the Middle East's only nuclear-armed power, has threatened military action if it looks like Tehran is close to getting nuclear weapons capability.

Washington gave the news of the new talks a cautious welcome.

"We will see how this round goes. In the past Iran has been unwilling to do what it needs to do despite the best efforts of the IAEA. But we commend the IAEA for keeping at it and we call on Iran to do what it needs to do to meet the international community's concerns," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told a news briefing.

A Western diplomat was also skeptical, noting that the talks would only take place after the next meeting of the IAEA's 35-nation governing board.

"So it is the usual scenario: defer criticism now by promising something later. Something that has failed to materialize the last four times," the envoy said.

INITIAL STEP?

The IAEA's talks with Iran are separate from Tehran's nuclear discussions with six world powers - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - which resumed in April but have also so far failed to reach any breakthrough.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton - who represents the powers in talks with Iran - sees the new IAEA-Iran meeting as long overdue.

It "could be an initial step on the path to resolve outstanding issues," Maja Kocijancic, Ashton's spokeswoman, said, adding that Iran had so far failed to cooperate in substance.

She reiterated concerns about the Parchin military site, which the IAEA wants to visit as part of its inquiry and where Western diplomats suspect Iran is now trying to clean up any evidence of past illicit nuclear-related activity.

The IAEA mission is likely to be headed by Deputy Director General Herman Nackaerts, the chief U.N. nuclear inspector, diplomatic sources said.

Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, later confirmed to Reuters that his country would hold talks with the U.N. agency next month.

Years of talks and sanctions have failed to end the dispute.

But, now assured of a second term, Obama, who has so far resisted calls in the United States and Israel for an attack on Iran, appears free to pursue a diplomatic settlement while threatening yet heavier sanctions if Tehran does not bend.

The United States and its allies want Iran to curb its uranium enrichment program. Iran, one of the world's largest oil producers, says the West must first lift the increasingly harsh sanctions.

(Additional reporting by Adrian Croft in Brussels and Andrew Quinn in Washington; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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Comments (2)
Fuzzy57 wrote:
This is just another stall trick by Iran, to by more time for their manufacturing bombs. The presidential election had nothing at all to do with Iran. Obama winning the election has nothing to do with Iran resuming talks. Obama and Israel MUST take a firm stand and give them an ultimatum. This is for Americas safety, as well as the Middle East. Stop with this dog and pony show before it is too late. Iranians have no problems in killing as many people as they can.

Nov 09, 2012 2:02pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Arnleif wrote:
I wonder if it would be possible for most people to have a look at, quote:”credible information indicating that Iran had carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device”.

Or do we simply follow the usually procedure of blind religious faith in policy makers like Obama and Netanyahu. I mean, look at Netanyahu`s last “evidence” laid before the UN. A cartoon drawing of a bomb where he draws a red line at the top of it to indicate doomsday. It is truly beyond ridiculous insulting to the public debate. That is assuming media wants one, or should we limit ourselves to an unanimous choir that sings: “Bomb Iran”.

Earlier this year the intelligence-service of the US and Israel took matters into their own hands, and publicly announced reports completely dismantling of the claims made by Netanyahu and Obama regarding Iran`s nuclear program. The consequences of that were that the rhetorical attacks on Iran went silent. If one follow the timeline, the explanation given to why Obama and Netanyahu calmed down, are that “sanctions need time to work”.

I find it interesting that Netanyahu since then has made huge changes to his government. The critical voices that opposed him are gone, that include both intelligence and military leaders. On top of that he have made changes to cabinet protocol to grant himself more power, something which have not been done since 1948. And now he is back with rhetorical attacks on Iran. Just like he did before he was contradicted by Israel`s own intelligence reports. Now with the resignation of the head of the US CIA, it would not be unwise to see with scientism on a shift both in policy and intelligence from Washington. The fabrication of evidence before the attack on Iraq, will not so easy be forgotten.

I assume there is a broad awareness of Iran`s own claims, that their nuclear program are only for civilian use. That have been stated with a single line in every media report regarding this topic, in an amusing testimony to claim objectivity reporting. The claims made that sanctions and diplomacy are what turned Iran`s nuclear program from military to civilian, are utterly nonsense, unless one can provide some hard evidence to confirm this. There are obvious none, one do not need evidence when you have blind faith in politician.

If there are no blind faith in these politician, why then write an article based on words of politicians from the Obama and Netanyahu administration, assuming they speak the truth when you know this? And what is not better that yet another countdown to doomsday without a faint gleam of criticism: ” contemplating delaying the moment of truth by eight to ten months”. Hallelujah, they were wrong on the deadline the other hundred times, but they probably got it right now….

If there were even a glimpse of objective reporting, Israel and US side of the story would be narrowed down to one single line: ” “Iran might have a bomb, soon, maybe next year, or in a few.

Nov 10, 2012 1:13pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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