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Nuclear Powers Seek Sustained Iran Talks, Parchin Access

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano asked for guidance early this week after two high-level missions to Tehran failed to win a diplomatic breakthrough. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Nuclear powers said they want sustained discussions with Iran and for the Persian Gulf nation to let United Nations inspectors into its secret Parchin military installation.

“We urge Iran to fulfill its undertaking to grant access to Parchin,” the UN’s permanent Security Council members plus Germany said in a two-page statement issued today in Vienna. “We call on Iran to enter, without pre-conditions, into a sustained process of serious dialogue, which will produce concrete results.”

It was the first joint statement issued by China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S. since the group committed to resume negotiations over Iran’s atomic work two days ago. They listed their demands to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-nation board of governors.

The U.S. and the European Union have ratcheted up economic sanctions against Iran over concerns that the government in Tehran is pursuing atomic weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. The last round of talks between nuclear powers and Iran broke down in January 2011.

Intensifying Talks

Atomic inspectors, who have been scrutinizing Iran’s nuclear program since 2003, were told to “intensify dialogue” with Iranian authorities, according to the statement. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano asked for guidance early this week after two high-level missions to Tehran failed to win a diplomatic breakthrough.

“We stress the need and urgency to reach agreement on a structured approach, based on the agency verification practices, to resolve all outstanding issues, particularly those relating to possible military dimensions,” according to the statement.

Parchin, 30 kilometers (18 miles) southwest of Tehran, is the military base where IAEA inspectors say they have “credible” evidence of Iranian nuclear-military work. Amano said on March 5 that illicit activities may be continuing at Parchin. The agency reported in November that Iran may have cleaned up sites at Parchin where experiments took place.

While Iran hasn’t ruled out an IAEA visit to the site, Iranian officials said on March 5 that security concerns in the wake of nuclear-scientist assassinations and industrial sabotage, prevented it from giving immediate access to inspectors.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised President Barack Obama’s comments yesterday that a “window of opportunity” exists for diplomacy to work.

“These words are good words and are a sign of no longer being in delusion,” Khamenei said at an event in Tehran today. “But the U.S. president continued to talk about sanctions against Iran to bring the people to their knees, and this part of the statement is still delusional.”

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