Iran says ready to answer U.N. nuclear agency’s questions
The International Atomic Energy Agency hopes to persuade Iran to finally start addressing long-held suspicions it may have researched how to build atomic bombs
Iran is ready to answer the U.N. atomic agency’s questions about its nuclear program, a senior official was quoted as saying ahead of talks on Saturday expected to broach sensitive military-related issues.
The International Atomic Energy Agency hopes to persuade Iran to finally start addressing long-held suspicions it may have researched how to build atomic bombs.
Tehran has rejected the accusations of weaponisation-related work as forged and baseless, while saying it will cooperate with the IAEA to clear up any “ambiguities”.
Saturday’s meeting comes 10 days before Tehran and world powers, building on a landmark interim deal that took effect last month, start talks on a long-term accord on Iran’s nuclear aspirations that would avert the threat of a Middle East war.
A spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation said the meeting had been scheduled for one day but might be extended, the ISNA news agency reported on Friday.
The “aim is to answer the IAEA’s questions”, Behrouz Kamalvandi was quoted as saying by ISNA, without elaborating.
Iran’s Press TV English-language state television said in a headline on its website, citing the same official: “Iran ready to answer all IAEA questions.”
Diplomats are cautiously optimistic that after Saturday’s talks in Tehran the team of senior IAEA inspectors will be able to show at least some progress in gaining Iran’s cooperation.
Iran-IAEA relations have improved since last year’s election of a relative moderate, Hassan Rouhani, as president of Iran on a platform to ease the country’s international isolation.
Under an agreement signed in November, the IAEA has already visited a heavy water production plant and a uranium mine in Iran. However, those first steps did not go to the heart of its investigation and Western diplomats will watch Saturday’s meeting closely to see whether the next phase achieves that.
One Vienna-based envoy said there was an expectation that at least one issue related to the IAEA’s inquiry into what it calls the “possible military dimensions” to Iran’s nuclear program would be among the next steps to be taken by Tehran.
“It is quite a crucial meeting,” the diplomat added.
The IAEA wants Iran to clarify alleged activities in a range of areas of potential application to developing bombs, including various experiments and computer calculations.
Western diplomats hope an accord will lead to Iran scaling back its nuclear program sufficiently to deny it the capability to assemble a nuclear weapon any time soon.
The IAEA’s investigation is focused on the question of whether Iran sought atomic bomb technology in the past and, if it did, to determine whether such work has since stopped.
Although separate, it is still closely aligned with the wider-ranging diplomacy between Tehran and the six powers - the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany.
Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful and that it is Israel’s assumed atomic arsenal that threatens peace.
Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said Iran would not back down “an iota from its nuclear rights”.
“These talks (with the powers) will continue in the case of the opposite party’s goodwill,” he added.
Netanyahu: Iran can make atomic bombIsraeli PM comments on IAEA report that Tehran halted its nuclear expansion Middle East
Iran allows IAEA to inspect military facilitiesWorld powers aim to curb Iran's atomic program to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons Asia
IAEA says nuclear talks with Iran postponed to Feb. 8Talks have broader implications for diplomatic ties between Iran and six world powers Middle East
U.N. nuclear agency calls for extra funds for Iran inspectionsIAEA will nearly double the number of people it has working on Iran as a result of the six-month accord Middle East
U.N. experts inspect Iran’s Arak nuclear plantThe IAEA regularly checks work on the Arak reactor, but says it has not received any new design details since 2006 World News
IAEA: Iran willing to ease conditions to cooperateIran’s more moderate new leadership has shown willingness to address concerns regardless of progress in parallel talks with world powers, the ... Middle East
Iran plays down prospects for quick IAEA nuclear dealIran’s envoy to the U.N. nuclear watchdog played down prospects for a quick breakthrough in talks on Friday with the agency on a stalled ... Middle East
Resolution targeting Israel defeated at IAEAA proposed resolution by Arab states criticizing Israel’s widely-rumored atomic arsenal was narrowly defeated Friday at a gathering of the U.N. ... World News