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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid