U.N. inspectors hold 'very productive' nuclear talks with Iran

VIENNA Tue Oct 29, 2013 1:33pm EDT

Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Reza Najafi talks to journalist ahead of a meeting with U.N. nuclear inspectors about Iran's disputed nuclear programme at Iran's embassy in Vienna September 27, 2013. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Reza Najafi talks to journalist ahead of a meeting with U.N. nuclear inspectors about Iran's disputed nuclear programme at Iran's embassy in Vienna September 27, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader

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VIENNA (Reuters) - The U.N. nuclear watchdog and Iran held "very productive" talks this week on how to advance a long-blocked investigation into Iranian atomic activities and will meet again in Tehran next month, they said in a rare joint statement on Tuesday.

The relatively upbeat announcement by Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency may further buoy hopes for a negotiated solution to the international standoff over Tehran's nuclear ambitions after the June election of moderate President Hassan Rouhani, who is seeking to reduce tension with the West.

The U.N. agency wants to resume an investigation, long stymied by Iranian non-cooperation, into what it calls the "possible military dimensions" of the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. Tehran says it is enriching uranium solely for electricity generation and medical treatments.

The IAEA and Iran "had a very productive meeting on past and present issues", Tero Varjoranta, the agency's deputy director general in charge of nuclear inspections, told reporters at the end of the two-day session in Vienna.

Iranian Ambassador Reza Najafi said Tehran presented new ideas to overcome the dispute, which revolves around the U.N. watchdog's suspicions that Iran researched how to build nuclear bombs despite being part of a global non-proliferation treaty.

"I believe that, with the submission of these new proposals by Iran, we have been able to open a new chapter of cooperation," he said, standing next to Varjoranta. The next meeting will be held in Tehran on November 11.

Their conciliatory comments marked a change in tone after a string of meetings since early 2012 failed to yield a deal giving the IAEA access to sites, files and officials in Iran relevant to its investigation.

The IAEA talks are distinct from Iran's negotiations with world powers, but both diplomatic tracks center on suspicions that Tehran may be seeking the capability to assemble nuclear bombs behind the facade of a civilian atomic energy program.

Rouhani, a pragmatist, took office in August promising to try to resolve the nuclear dispute and secure an easing of sanctions that have severely hurt Iran's oil-dependent economy.

The fact that the next meeting will be held in the Iranian capital may help raise expectations that Iran would start to resolve the IAEA's concerns, said David Albright of the U.S. Institute for Science and International Security.

But, he added, "I've been disappointed many times before."

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said in Vienna on Monday that he had put forward proposals to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and pledged a "new approach" in dealings with the U.N. agency. But he gave no specifics.

IAEA SEEKS ARMY BASE ACCESS

Tuesday's joint statement said: "Iran presented a new proposal on practical measures as a constructive contribution to strengthen cooperation and dialogue with a view to future resolution of all outstanding issues."

Expectations for this week's Vienna talks, the first at such high level since Rouhani's election, had been relatively high. Diplomats believed Iran might soon offer concessions, perhaps by permitting U.N. inspectors to visit its Parchin military base southeast of Tehran - long an IAEA priority.

Taking advantage of the diplomatic opening enabled by Rouhani, Iran and six world powers have revived separate negotiations towards a broader political settlement of the nuclear dispute to head off any risk of a new Middle East war.

The last meeting between Iran and the United States, France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia was held on October 15-16 in Geneva, and another one is scheduled for November 7-8, just a few days before the next Iran-IAEA meeting.

An end to Iran's higher-grade enrichment of uranium is a central demand of the powers. Refining uranium to 20 percent is sensitive as it is a relatively short technical step to raise that to the 90 percent needed for a nuclear bomb.

Israel, believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear-armed power, wants arch-foe Iran to cease all enrichment and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon warned on Tuesday "against concessions that are liable to concede to the regime's charm offensive".

(This story is refiled to fix joint statement quote in paragraph 13 to conform with official transcript)

(Additional reporting by Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Comments (8)
rgbviews wrote:
Given the Hasbara activity here it looks like Netanyahu is really worried that his main fear-mongering tool may disintegrate. Without conflict the far-right could easily lose power in Israel. Heaven forbid there could be no danger from Iran and a just agreement with the Palestinians.

It’s truly a sad statement on Israel when peaceful co-existence, stability, and prosperity in the ME is considered threatening.

Oct 29, 2013 9:48am EDT  --  Report as abuse
FRPSR wrote:
The distinction being held against the Iranians is that they own the keys to embarrassing episodic narratives that are , and will continue to be unwelcome to the king makers and breakers of the “great game” .
The unflagging energies from the unpaid contribution from a sea of pawns whose jingoistic authoritarian pseudo patriotic partisan energies are fronted , when necessary , by the undying oligarchical reactionaries . Unmeasurable (the unregulatable way they like it) wealth providing the artificial wind at the backs of anti government anarchists whose nihilistic , but predictable passion for an exclusive voice over the unwashed (brown and poor) “other” . Expedited in the luxury of unlimited time and funding the predictable purchased leverage in international to local corporate takeovers of media for unabated production of the meretricious propaganda doesn’t act , think , or spend small . Led by repitition provided by the stereotypical , or commercial , off the shelf leaders of physical beauty soon find themselves in the thick with circular promotions of divisions and hatreds . As every attempt in isolating the ugly dissents , from a partisan divide , finds the tedious engagement of “policy” more and more distracting to both the purpose of these actors and their directors , as the contents endgame which is to enrage and remove doubt .
All of which leads to the button pushing ease favored by the Ayn Rand hypocrit whose disdain for the lazy “takers” is unconciously presaged in their personal projections . An unmeasured metric of the commitment and confidence of the undead wealth is the fashionable , if unbridled , cynicism presented with the purity of pious anti choice platforms while engaged in the best pogroms their money and research can manage . The detriment to any negotiation is always the priority , and the death of physicians , technicians , and of course the uncounted defenseless women and children , in the “name” of love , charity , and life is the free collateral damage for those who question the need to act without considering the consequences . Any who would question the need to protect the innocent are immediately understood to be aiding the promotion of a continuing “holocaust” .
With this pressure from the smallest but wealthiest voters in a “lobbyist republic” , where the corporate voice has human rights , what chance does a ethical voice have that hedges executive action with the restraint of religious scholars considerations of consequence administrators may be considering . These sorts of constraint make it impossible to act in haste or anger , such as declaring war , or ordering inhuman actions from unmanned aerial assaults , or worse .
The legitimate fears of the Reagan worshippers over the semi secret bargains made to end the embassy crisis being revealed , to blacken the slim legacy of the double talking founder of the utopian political movement . Without irony this is referred to as a “conservative” party and the worth , the expense of whatever life or treasure required to keep the purity of the lies , and excesses untrammled by facts or reason .
This can all be undone by the political will of the Iranian people to keep their sovereign rights unchallenged by the players of the victorian predecessor of todays big game . They can issue a unilateral apology for the embassy takeover and ensuing hostage crisis , and then have it done with . Iran has learned that regardless of the goodwill demonstrated by their many actions to assist America since 2001 , America accepts these as given , but without fail turns its back on Iran when matters of Iranian sovereignty are raised that impinges on American authority to exercise its will as middle eastern hegemon .

Oct 29, 2013 11:13am EDT  --  Report as abuse
SoutherRican wrote:
Great the “Talk” is going well this week. Next week the talk will also go well. And on and on, until Iran declares it has a nuclear weapon, that doesn’t talk. What we must not forget is that the position of President in Iran is mostly a ceremonial position, the real power and final word is for the Ayatollah. Like I read before he is only a Clerk. The Charm Offensive on the streets is called a BS Offensive, that can’t stop nuclear fallout either.

Oct 29, 2013 11:49am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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