Iran open for IAEA talks, no word on Parchin: diplomats (REUTERS) By Fredrik Dahl VIENNA, AUSTRIA 04/19/12 1:33pm EDT)
Reuters News Service
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(Reuters) - Iran says it is ready to resume talks with the U.N.
nuclear watchdog two months after their last meeting ended in
failure, but still appears to be stonewalling a request for access to
a key military site, Western diplomats said on Thursday.
Just days after Iran and six world powers restarted negotiations in
Istanbul, the Islamic Republic delivered a letter to the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on holding new discussions
with the U.N. body as well.
But Vienna-based diplomats said it did not mention the IAEA´s most
pressing demand - that its inspectors be allowed to visit the Parchin
military site southeast of Tehran, where the agency believes nuclear-
relevant research may have taken place.
IAEA chief Yukiya Amano told Reuters last month he did not rule out
that Iran may be trying to remove evidence prior to any visit.
Western diplomats say they suspect the site is being "sanitized", a
charge Tehran dismisses.
Iran´s ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, handed over the
letter to senior agency officials on Tuesday which said Tehran
is "ready to resume the negotiations", one Western diplomat said.
But, another envoy said, it "does not offer the agency access to
A third diplomat said, the IAEA may decide to travel to Tehran again
in any case, before a meeting of the agency´s 35-nation governing
board in early June to show that it is giving "dialogue a chance".
Neither the IAEA nor Iran was immediately available for comment on
Iran´s overtures to the U.N. agency, which is tasked with preventing
the spread of nuclear weapons in the world, coincides with renewed
diplomacy between the Islamic state and the six world powers.
Both Tehran and the powers said they were content with progress made
in last Saturday´s talks in Istanbul which did not go into detail
but, unlike earlier rounds of negotiations, stayed on the subject of
Iran´s nuclear program.
NO PARCHIN ACCESS?
Iran´s foreign minister said on Monday that his country was ready to
resolve all nuclear issues in the next round of talks with the
powers - the United States, Germany, France, Russia, China and
Britain - if the West starts lifting sanctions.
The United States has ruled out, however, any easing of punitive
measures before Tehran takes concrete and significant action to allay
suspicions over its disputed nuclear program.
"The negotiations may be long, arduous, and ultimately
unsatisfactory," said Alireza Nader, a senior analyst at RAND
Corporation, a U.S.-based research group.
Western powers suspect Iran is seeking to develop the capability to
make nuclear bombs. Iran, one of the world´s largest oil producers,
says its program is a peaceful project to generate electricity and
produce medical isotopes.
An IAEA report late last year revealed a trove of intelligence
pointing to research activities in Iran of use in developing the
means and technologies needed to assemble nuclear weapons, should it
decide to do so.
The U.N. agency´s document lent independent weight to Western
suspicions and paved the way for the United States and its European
allies to dramatically ratchet up sanctions against Iran, targeting
its lifeblood oil exports.
One salient finding in the report was information that Iran had built
a large containment chamber at Parchin in which to conduct high-
explosives tests that the IAEA said are "strong indicators of
possible weapon development".
Two rounds of meetings between a senior IAEA team and Iran in January
and February in Tehran failed to produce any breakthrough in the
nuclear dispute, with Iran not granting access to Parchin.
Iran has rejected suspicions aired about the site as "ridiculous"
But RAND´s Nader said Iran must come clean "regarding clandestine
work directly related to nuclear weaponisation", including opening up
sites such as Parchin to inspections. (Editing by Louise Ireland) (©
Thomson Reuters 2012. 04/19/12)
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