News / Middle East

UN, Iran Report Positive Nuclear Talks

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano from Japan, speaks to the media before his flight to Iran at Vienna International Airport, Austria, May 20, 2012. Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano from Japan, speaks to the media before his flight to Iran at Vienna International Airport, Austria, May 20, 2012.
x
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano from Japan, speaks to the media before his flight to Iran at Vienna International Airport, Austria, May 20, 2012.
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano from Japan, speaks to the media before his flight to Iran at Vienna International Airport, Austria, May 20, 2012.
Al Pessin
A senior Iranian official and the United Nations nuclear affairs chief say they made progress in talks in Tehran Monday, as they laid the groundwork for nuclear negotiations between Iran and major world powers on Wednesday.

Iranian media quote the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, as saying the meeting was “intensive” and “very useful,” and would definitely “have a positive impact on” Wednesday’s talks.

But he also reportedly hinted at continuing disagreements, saying Iran and his agency each have their own views on the details of a framework to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but Western officials and experts suspect it is aimed at developing the ability to build a nuclear weapon.  The IAEA chief apparently did not get Iranian approval for inspections of key nuclear facilities.

It was Amano's first trip to Iran since taking office at the U.N. nuclear agency in 2009.

Nuclear facilities and sites in Iran.Nuclear facilities and sites in Iran.
x
Nuclear facilities and sites in Iran.
Nuclear facilities and sites in Iran.
After the talks, the top Iranian nuclear negotiator, Saeed 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. He called the talks “very good” and expressed the hope for “good cooperation in the future.”

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.

Tehran Weighs Options

Proliferation expert Mark Fitzpatrick at London’s International Institute for International Studies says Iran probably already has the capability to build a nuclear weapon. But he says economic sanctions may have given Iranian leaders enough incentive to take steps to reassure the international community that they won’t.

“Iran feels under great pressure on the sanctions front," Fitzpatrick said. "It sees that this pressure is only going to increase unless it takes some steps.  So I think it has made a decision to try to do something to relieve the pressure, whether enough to bring about any reduction in sanctions, that’s where I have some doubt.”

Wednesday’s meeting will bring Iranian officials together in Baghdad with senior representatives of the permanent five United Nations Security Council members and Germany.  

Fitzpatrick says the international officials will be looking for concrete steps by Iran to ensure that it cannot quickly build a nuclear weapon.  Such steps could include removing from the country highly enriched uranium and the centrifuges that make it.

Fitzpatrick says such moves would be in keeping with official Iranian policy declarations, but he is not sure the country’s leaders are ready to agree to them this week.

“There’s a lot of positive ‘mood music’ surrounding the Baghdad meeting," he said. "But I fear that the expectations might have risen too high, because I think what Iran will be seeking and what it is willing to give at this stage, those two may not yet meet.”

Fitzpatrick says the improved negotiating atmosphere and the prospect for some progress have eased pressure for an immediate military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.  

Israel Wary

But in Israel, where the prospect of a military strike is hotly debated, Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned Monday that Iran would try to “create an appearance of progress” in order to relieve international pressure.  

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.

Western officials say they will only be satisfied by concrete actions. The United States also has refused to rule out a strike on Iran to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons.

VOA's Michael Lipin in Washington contributed to this report.
Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on
Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid