Iran and nuclear monitors are attempting to find a new approach that would ensure the Persian Gulf nation’s atomic program is intended for exclusively peaceful purposes, officials said.
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi met with International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano today in Vienna. Nuclear inspectors are seeking wider access to people and places suspected of conducting undeclared nuclear activities. Talks between IAEA and their Iranian counterparts will continue tomorrow.
“This is the time to take a new approach to resolving questions between Iran and the IAEA and look to the future for further cooperation,” Araghchi told reporters before talks began. Inspectors need to play a role “to ensure Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful and remains peaceful,” he said.
Meeting world powers earlier this month in Geneva, Araghchi said Iran was willing to assent to more stringent inspections as part of confidence-building measures intended to defuse the decade-long standoff. Atop the IAEA’s list of sites it would like to visit is the Parchin military base 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of Tehran, where Iran allegedly experimented on triggers for a nuclear device.
“This meeting is a very important opportunity for us to discuss a way forward,” Amano said. “It is important for all of us to show concrete progress.”
After a decade of talks punctuated by threats of military action and trade sanctions, Iran may be moving toward a deal on its nuclear program with the so-called P5+1 powers -- the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Russia and China. The two sides will hold another round of negotiations next month.
New Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke by phone with President Barack Obama last month, while Britain and Iran are moving toward reopening embassies in each other’s capitals.
Iran, with the world’s No. 4 proven oil reserves, denies that it is seeking nuclear weapons and insists its program is peaceful. While investigators regularly enter Iran’s declared nuclear facilities, including its two enrichment plants, they say they still need to determine the extent of alleged hidden nuclear-weapons work by Iran.
After meeting with Amano, Araghchi called today’s session “useful and constructive,” adding that he is “hopeful of a good result.”