World Powers Meet with Iran in Baghdad

Posted May 23rd, 2012 at 2:15 am (UTC-5)
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Representatives of six world powers are meeting with Iran's nuclear negotiator in Baghdad to try to negotiate an agreement for Iran to stop producing highly-enriched uranium that Western nations fear could be used to make a nuclear bomb.

Wednesday's meeting comes hours after the head of the U.N. nuclear agency said he expects Iran to sign an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency “quite soon” to allow inspections of nuclear facilities. The IAEA has suspected that Iran has used some facilities for a covert nuclear-weapons program.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano returned to Vienna Tuesday after meeting chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in Iran. Amano said he and Jalili made a “decision to reach an agreement” on U.N. access to Iranian sites, including the Parchin military complex.

Western powers suspect Iran has engaged in atomic weapons research at the site. Tehran says Parchin is a conventional weapons facility and insists the Iranian nuclear program is peaceful.

White House spokesman Jay Carney called the announcement a “step forward” but said Washington would “make judgments about Iran's behavior based on actions, not just promises or agreements.”

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

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak accused Iran of trying to create a false impression of progress with the IAEA before nuclear talks with six world powers Wednesday in Baghdad. He said Iran is trying to reduce international pressure to make nuclear concessions and wants to postpone any intensification of sanctions by the foreign powers.

In a separate development, Iran's state-run IRNA news agency said Tuesday the national atomic energy organization has delivered domestically-made nuclear fuel to a research reactor in Tehran for the first time. The report said two batches of the fuel were sent to the site and one was loaded into the reactor, but gave no time frame. There was no independent confirmation of the development.

Western diplomats and analysts have said the Iranian government sometimes exaggerates its nuclear progress to try to improve its bargaining position with world powers and strengthen its domestic support.

London-based nuclear energy expert Malcolm Grimston of Chatham House told VOA the only way for Iran to prove that its nuclear program is peaceful is to accept international offers of enriched uranium for legitimate uses such as the research reactor and power plants. He said Iran also would have to dismantle the technology that allows it to raise its enrichment level to weapons-grade.

Jalili met with Iraqi President Jalal Talibani in Baghdad Tuesday ahead of Iran's nuclear negotiation with the P5+1: Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany.