Iran upbeat on IAEA talks, but deadlock remains

Iranian FM Salehi says he held "very fruitful" talks with Amano; two sides agree to work together to resolve outstanding issues.

July 12, 2011 12:05
2 minute read.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, Jan.

Ali Akbar Salehi_311 reuters. (photo credit: Khaled Al Hariri / Reuters)

VIENNA - Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog appeared to remain deadlocked on Tuesday in a dispute over Tehran's atomic activities, despite an upbeat assessment by the Islamic state's foreign minister after rare talks in Vienna.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said he held "very fruitful" discussions with Yukiya Amano, director general of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and that they had agreed to work together to help resolve outstanding issues.

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But the IAEA gave a different picture of the meeting, saying in a brief statement that Amano had "reiterated the agency's position on the issues where Iran is not meeting its obligations."

Salehi said "very positive" conclusions were reached at the meeting with Amano, but he gave no specific details and there was no indication that Iran would be prepared to back down in the nuclear dispute.

He suggested Iran would only be willing to discuss the allegations about suspected military links to its nuclear program if the IAEA first declared that a work plan dating back to 2007 had been finalized.

Iran says it has answered all points raised under the plan agreed with the UN agency four years ago to help clarify the nature of Tehran's nuclear program.

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But the IAEA says Tehran has failed for several years to address allegations of a possible military dimension in its nuclear program and it made clear again on Tuesday its view that the 2007 work plan remained unfinished.

"The director general [Amano] indicated that he is not in a position at this stage to consider the work plan to be completed," the agency's statement said.

Salehi told reporters: "Both sides have promised that their experts will sit together and think of a new mechanism ... of continuing our work vis-a-vis this [nuclear] issue."

He added: "We have promised each other to ... think of an innovative way of doing business with each other, work with each other, so that we are able to resolve this issue."

The meeting coincided with increasingly strained ties between Iran and the UN body over the past year.

The UN agency has voiced growing concern in the past year over suspicions that Iran may be working to develop a nuclear-armed missile and it has repeatedly called on Tehran to increase cooperation to help ease such fears.

For several years, the IAEA has been investigating Western intelligence reports indicating Iran has coordinated efforts to process uranium, test explosives at high altitude and revamp a ballistic missile cone so it could take a nuclear warhead.

Iran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment has led to four rounds of UN sanctions on the major oil producer, as well tighter US and European Union restrictions.

Iran has accused Amano of taking orders from Washington.

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