Iran and the UN nuclear agency started their first meeting in three months yesterday, with world powers watching closely for clues on whether progress can be made in their talks in Baghdad next week.
The two-day meeting between Iran’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Ali Asghar Soltanieh, and chief inspector Hermann Nackaerts aimed at clarifying suspicions Tehran had done nuclear weapons research.
“We are here to continue our dialogue with Iran in a positive spirit,” Nackaerts said as he went into the talks at Iran’s Vienna embassy. “The aim of our two days is to reach an agreement on an approach to resolve all outstanding issues with Iran. In particular the clarification of the possible military dimension remains our priority.”
The last time the two sides met officially was in early February in the second of two visits to Tehran — each branded a “failure” by Washington — after which the IAEA said it had “major -differences” with Iran.
The watchdog said Iran brushed aside extensive claims made in a November IAEA report that at least until 2003, and possibly since, activities took place that could only conceivably be aimed at developing nuclear weapons.
Iran also denied Nackaerts access to the Parchin military site near Tehran where, the November report alleged, Iran had conducted suspicious explosives tests in a large metal container, the IAEA said.
IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said recently that access to Parchin was a “priority,” and Western diplomats said the site would be at the heart of this week’s meeting in Vienna.