IAEA inspectors to return to Iran after 'good' trip

UN nuclear watchdog plans another visit "in the very near future"; S. Korea, Japan want US to detail Iran sanctions.

February 1, 2012 11:20
3 minute read.
IAEA Nuclear Inspectors [illustrative]

IAEA Insepctiors 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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VIENNA - The UN nuclear watchdog said on Wednesday it had held "good" talks in Iran about suspicions Tehran was seeking atomic weapons but more discussions were needed.

The senior United Nations nuclear inspectors went to Tehran on Saturday for talks with Iranian officials on the Islamic state's suspected atomic weapons program, and to try to advance efforts to resolve the nuclear row. Tehran say its nuclear activities are for peaceful electricity generation.

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"We are committed to resolving all the outstanding issues and the Iranians certainly are committed too. But of course there is still a lot of work to be done and so we have planned another trip in the very near future," Herman Nackaerts, deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told reporters after returning from Tehran.

Asked if he was satisfied with the talks, Nackaerts, who headed the six-member IAEA mission, said "Yeah, we had a good trip."

He described the three days of talks as "intensive discussions" but declined to comment on whether his Iranian counterparts had engaged in substantial dialogue or to give any more details, saying he first needed to brief his superiors.

Iran earlier described the talks as "constructive" and said further meetings were planned.

"Talks between Iran and the visiting team of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency were constructive and ... the two sides agreed to continue the talks," the semi-official Fars news agency quoted an unnamed source as saying on Tuesday.

The Fars report said the date of future talks between Iran and IAEA had been set, but did not give details.

Western diplomats have often accused Iran of using offers of dialogue as a stalling tactic while it presses ahead with its nuclear program, and say they doubt whether Tehran will show the kind of concrete cooperation the IAEA wants.

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S. Korea, Japan want US to detail Iran sanctions

South Korea and Japan will meet US officials in Washington to ask how much oil they can import from Iran under new sanctions that leave the Asian countries with few alternative sources of energy, government officials said on Wednesday.

Japan is the world's third biggest oil consumer, and South Korea is the fifth largest.

Both nations import significant amounts of crude from Iran, which they are under pressure to cut back to secure a waiver from a US law imposing sanctions on financial institutions that trade with Iran's central bank.

Japan's Foreign Ministry said a delegation was due to hold talks in Washington on Thursday as part of ongoing consultations and would seek clarity on the law, which is part of a raft of sanctions aimed at reining in Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"We don't know what the Americans want until we hold the meeting," a Japanese government official said.

The official said Japan would explain the nature of its trade with Iran, as well as ask the United States to exempt Japanese banks from sanctions. No concrete steps are expected to be agreed upon, he added.

South Korea's foreign ministry said a technical team was would visit the United States to discuss the Iranian sanctions, but would not give details about the trip.

South Korea, a key US ally, has warned the United States it would have difficulty replacing Iranian crude supplies.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak will visit major oil producers Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates next week to try and secure alternative sources of energy.

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