The UN atomic agency said yesterday it held “very constructive” talks with Iran, in the latest potentially positive sign since the more moderate Hassan Rouhani became president.
Following a flurry of meetings at the UN General Assembly this week in New York, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief inspector Herman Nackaerts said in Vienna that the two sides would come together again on Oct. 28.
“We will start substantial discussions [today] on the way forward to resolving all outstanding issues,” Nackaerts told reporters. “The talks were very constructive.”
Iran’s new envoy to the IAEA, Reza Najafi, said both sides had had “constructive discussions on a variety of issues.”
The IAEA regularly inspects Iran’s nuclear activities and every quarter its reports outline a continued expansion in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.
Western countries want the IAEA to keep a closer eye on Iran to better detect any attempt to “break out” and produce highly enriched uranium for an atomic bomb.
However, the main focus of yesterday’s talks was the IAEA’s wish for Iran to address allegations that before 2003, and possibly since, it conducted research work into making an actual nuclear weapon.
The agency has failed in 10 meetings to press Iran to grant it access to personnel, sites and documents related to these activities, set out in a major November 2011 report by the IAEA.
The allegations were based in large part on information provided to the IAEA from spy agencies like the CIA and Israel’s Mossad, intelligence which Iran rubbishes and complains it has not even been allowed to see.
The sites include the Parchin military base where the IAEA wants to probe claims that scientists conducted explosives tests that would be “strong indicators of possible nuclear weapon development”.
Western countries have accused Iran of literally bulldozing evidence at Parchin, and IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said in June that heavy construction work spotted by satellites means “it may no longer be possible to find anything even if we have access.”