UN Nuclear Chief Holds Talks in Tehran

Posted May 21st, 2012 at 12:35 pm (UTC-5)
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The head of the U.N. nuclear agency has ended talks with Iranian officials in Tehran with no word of a breakthrough in a long-running dispute about access to Iranian facilities suspected of being used for a covert nuclear weapons program.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukio Amano held separate meetings on Monday with Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and the Iranian nuclear energy organization chief Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, shortly after arriving for a one-day visit.

It was Amano's first trip to Iran since taking office at the U.N. nuclear agency in 2009. After the talks, Jalili said he had a good discussion with Amano about how to cooperate on global nuclear disarmament, stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and supporting the rights of IAEA member states.

Jalili made the comments standing alongside Amano at a joint news conference broadcast on Iranian state television.

Amano's remarks could not be heard in the broadcast. Iranian media quoted him as saying he held “very useful” and “intensive” talks with Iranian officials in a “positive atmosphere.”

Before leaving Vienna, Amano said he hoped to build on “good progress” made by lower-level IAEA and Iranian officials in the Austrian capital last week. But Amano also said “nothing is certain” about the prospects for an agreement on nuclear inspections.

Iran has rejected repeated IAEA requests to inspect its Parchin military complex in response to Western allegations of atomic weapons research at the site. Tehran says the complex houses only conventional weapons and insists the Iranian nuclear program is peaceful.

Some diplomats say Iran may offer concessions to Amano to strengthen its negotiating position in separate nuclear talks with six world powers in Baghdad on Wednesday. The world powers include the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany – a group that has been trying to assess the possible military capability of Iran's nuclear sites.

Israel sees a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to its existence and refuses to rule out military action against the Iranian nuclear program.

During a visit to Prague Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed concern about the Baghdad talks, saying Iran may use them to buy time to advance its weapons ambitions.

The United States also has refused to rule out a strike on Iran to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons.