|West to hold back from targeting Iran at UN nuclear meeting: diplomats||
TEHRAN – Western powers will refrain from raising pressure on Iran at a UN nuclear meeting next week to give its new moderate president time to show he is serious about moves to reduce tensions over the country’s nuclear program, Reuters quoted Western diplomats as saying on Thursday.
Iran says its nuclear energy program is for electricity generation and medical uses only, rejecting Western accusations it is covertly trying to develop the capability to make bombs.
The June election of Rohani as president, succeeding conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has stirred hopes that it may be possible to resolve a decade-old dispute.
Rohani, keen to secure a relaxation of harsh international sanctions on Iran, has signaled readiness to be more open about Iranian nuclear activities in return for the acceptance of Tehran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.
The September 9-13 meeting of the 35-nation board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), one of four annually, will be its first since Rohani’s rise.
During Ahmadinejad’s eight-year tenure, the board passed six resolutions criticizing Iran over its nuclear activities, demanding a suspension of enrichment and full cooperation with IAEA inspectors, and clearing the way to successive batches of United Nations sanctions since 2006.
“There has definitely been a change in tone from the Iranian government which we recognize and welcome,” a Western envoy said, speaking ahead of next week’s governing board meeting.
“We have to give them at least the time to translate their words into action,” the envoy added, noting there were no plans - unlike previous board meetings - to push for a resolution to criticize Iran over its refusal to scale down its nuclear activity.
“We expect and hope to see more than words” from Iran, the senior diplomat said, echoing the views of other Western officials in Vienna, where the IAEA is based.
Another senior Western diplomat said the Iran-IAEA meeting later this month would be an opportunity for Iran to convey a “different message” to the outside world.
The two sides have held 10 rounds of negotiations since early 2012 in an attempt by the IAEA to resume its inquiry.
The talks have failed to yield results but Iran last month announced it would replace the envoy who has led the country’s team in the discussions, in a possible sign of its desire for a new start after Rohani’s election.
“One would hope that by November there is some greater clarity on what Iran is prepared to do to resolve the issues that have been put on the table,” the second Western diplomat said, referring to the next quarterly meeting of the IAEA board.
The Iran-IAEA talks are separate, but still closely linked, to negotiations between six major powers - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - and Iran aimed at finding a broader diplomatic solution to the nuclear dispute.
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