TEHRAN – Iran is ready to clear up all the possible ambiguities about its nuclear program, an Iranian nuclear official said on Friday.
“As we have already said, we are ready to answer all the questions about our peaceful nuclear activities,” Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, told IRNA.
He made the remarks ahead of a meeting between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency in Tehran on Saturday.
Reuters reported on Thursday that diplomats are cautiously optimistic that the team of senior IAEA inspectors will return from the meeting in Tehran on Saturday - which may run into Sunday - able to show at least some progress.
They said the IAEA may tread carefully to avoid upsetting the delicate building of rapport at a time when Iran and six big powers are due to start separate, high-stakes talks on a broader settlement of the decade-old nuclear dispute.
The UN agency may therefore try to begin with getting Iran to clarify questions about some of the less sensitive aspects of the IAEA's inquiry into what it calls the "possible military dimensions" to Tehran's nuclear program.
The investigation "is about being thorough and transparent, not about being fast," an envoy, who closely follows Iran's nuclear program but is not from any of the big powers, said.
Tehran has rejected the accusations of weaponization-related work as forged and baseless, while saying it will cooperate with the IAEA to clear up any "ambiguities".
The February 8 meeting comes 10 days before Iran and the world powers, building on a landmark interim deal struck in November, start negotiations on a long-term agreement on Tehran's nuclear aspirations.
Although separate, Iran-IAEA talks are still closely aligned with the wider-ranging diplomacy between Tehran and the six powers - United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany.
Western officials stress that progress in the UN inquiry will be important to reaching a diplomatic accord, even though some analysts question how hard the powers in the end will press for IAEA closure as part of any final deal.
"A satisfactory resolution of these issues will be crucial to any comprehensive solution," the U.S. ambassador to the IAEA, Joseph Macmanus, said last month.
Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful and denies Western and Israeli accusations that it is seeking the means and expertise to assemble a nuclear warhead. It says it is Israel's military nuclear program that threatens peace.
Often strained in the past, relations between Iran and the IAEA have improved since last year's election of moderate Hassan Rouhani, as Iranian president.
Under an agreement signed just weeks before the powers reached their own initial accord in late November over Iran’s nuclear program, the IAEA has already visited a heavy water production plant and a uranium mine in Iran.
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said this week he hoped the talks in Tehran would lead to an agreement on "substantive measures", without elaborating.