TEHRAN – Abbas Araqchi, the lead Iranian nuclear negotiator, held a meeting with UN nuclear watchdog chief Yukiya Amano in Vienna on Monday to discuss ways to resolve remaining questions about Iran’s nuclear program.
“It is very important for all of us that we can show concrete progress,” Amano said, sitting across a table from Araqchi at International Atomic Energy Agency headquarters in Vienna.
Araqchi is Iran’s point man in nuclear negotiations with the six major powers (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany). Analysts say his meeting with Amano will positively affect Iran’s negotiations with the 5+1 group.
The last meeting between the six major powers and Iran was held in Geneva on October 15 and 16, and another one is scheduled for November 7 and 8.
The meeting between a senior Iranian negotiator and the IAEA chief was the first of its kind as new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has raised hopes of an end to the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program.
“We think this is the time to take a new approach to resolving (questions) between Iran and the IAEA and look to the future for further cooperation in order to ensure the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program,” Araqchi said.
Araqchi, the Iranian deputy foreign minister, also told the Fars New Agency that his talks with Amano were “constructive” and “forward-looking”.
The IAEA hopes to resume an investigation, long stalled, into what it calls the “possible military dimensions” of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
The United States, Israel, and a few of their allies accuse Iran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear energy program. However, the IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities but has never found any evidence showing that Iran’s civilian nuclear program has been diverted to nuclear weapons production.
“It is peaceful and it will remain peaceful forever,” Araqchi said.
The one-hour meeting between Amano and Araqchi was to be followed by lower-level Iran-IAEA discussions later on Monday.
Iran and the IAEA last met on September 27, in which Iran’s Ambassador to the IAEA, Reza Najafi, led the Iranian team and IAEA Deputy Director General Herman Nackaerts was the head of the UN nuclear agency’s delegation.