|Iran, IAEA hold ‘very productive’ talks||
TEHRAN – The UN nuclear agency and Iran held “very productive” talks on Monday and Tuesday on how to advance further investigation into Iran’s nuclear program and will meet again in Tehran on November 11, they said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
The upbeat announcement by Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency may further buoy hopes for a negotiated solution to the standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program after the June election of moderate President Hassan Rouhani, who is seeking to reduce tension with the West.
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, according to Reuters.
Iranian Ambassador Reza Najafi said Tehran presented new ideas to overcome the dispute.
“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.
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 relevant to its investigation.
The Iran-IAEA discussions are separate from, but closely linked to, broader negotiations between Tehran and six world powers aimed at an overall political solution to the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, which the West claims may be geared to developing nuclear weapons.
Iran says it is enriching uranium only to fuel nuclear power stations, and for medical purposes.
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 UN agency.
Tuesday’s joint statement said, “Iran presented new proposals of practical measures as a constructive contribution to strengthen our cooperation and dialogue with a view to future resolution of all outstanding issues.”
Asked whether he expected a deal to be clinched at the next meeting, set for November 11 in the Iranian capital, Varjoranta said, “We expect to get our work done as soon as possible.”
He added in response to a question about Parchin, where the IAEA suspects nuclear-relevant explosives tests might have taken place a decade ago, “We are addressing all present and past issues. Parchin is of course one of these things.”
Iran says Parchin is a conventional military installation.
Taking advantage of the diplomatic opening enabled by Rouhani, Iran and world powers have revived separate negotiations toward a broader political settlement of the nuclear dispute.
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.
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