News / Middle East

Iran Says to Work 'Closely' with UN Nuclear Watchdog

Iran's new ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Reza Najafi smiles as he arrives for a board of governors meeting at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Sept., 2013.Iran's new ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Reza Najafi smiles as he arrives for a board of governors meeting at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Sept., 2013.
x
Iran's new ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Reza Najafi smiles as he arrives for a board of governors meeting at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Sept., 2013.
Iran's new ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Reza Najafi smiles as he arrives for a board of governors meeting at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Sept., 2013.
Reuters
— Iran says to work "closely" with U.N. nuclear  Iran's new envoy to the U.N. nuclear agency said on Thursday he would cooperate with it to find a way to “overcome existing issues once and for all”, potentially signaling a more flexible approach from Tehran's new administration.

But Ambassador Reza Najafi, at his first board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), also repeated Iran's position that it would not give up what it sees as its legitimate right to a peaceful nuclear energy program.

“Based on its rights and obligations recognized under the NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty], Iran is ready to faithfully engage and remove any ambiguity on its nuclear activities,” Najafi told the governing board of the Vienna-based U.N. agency.

Iran is at loggerheads with Western powers in particular, who fear its nuclear program may be designed to give it the capacity to build nuclear weapons. Tehran denies the accusation.

Separately from big power efforts to resolve a decade-old dispute that could trigger a Middle East war, the IAEA has held 10 rounds of talks with Iran since early 2012 in a bid to resume a stalled inquiry into suspected atom bomb research.

The negotiations have so far failed to yield results but a  meeting is set for September 27 in Vienna, seen by Western states as a key test of the new Iranian government's intentions.

Najafi, who was appointed to the Vienna post after President Hassan Rouhani took office in early August, said there was a strong political will on the Iranian side to “constructively interact” on the nuclear issue.

“We are looking forward to working closely with the director- general [IAEA chief Yukiya Amano] and his team in the coming days,” Najafi, a soft-spoken career diplomat and disarmament expert, said.

“No language of threat”

Asked whether he was hopeful that an agreement could be reached in the Vienna meeting, he later told a brief news conference: “We sit together, we directly and frankly discuss the differences. We hope that we can solve those differences.”

Western diplomats welcomed his statement as a change in tone but cautioned it remained to be seen whether there would also be a change in substance following the June election of Rouhani, a relative moderate, to replace conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

They said Najafi's remarks - though short on specifics - were more matter of fact than those of his predecessor, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, who often used the IAEA board meetings to rail against Tehran's Western foes and the U.N. nuclear agency.

Iran says it is enriching uranium only for civilian energy and medicine, denying any aim to acquire nuclear weapons.

Iran's new President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech after his swearing-in at the parliament in Tehran, Aug. 4, 2013.Iran's new President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech after his swearing-in at the parliament in Tehran, Aug. 4, 2013.
x
Iran's new President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech after his swearing-in at the parliament in Tehran, Aug. 4, 2013.
Iran's new President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech after his swearing-in at the parliament in Tehran, Aug. 4, 2013.
​Rouhani, who has vowed that Iran will be more transparent and less confrontational in talks both with the IAEA and the big powers, said this week that the time for resolving Iran's nuclear dispute with the West was limited.

He said he would meet with the foreign ministers from some of the six powers - Russia, China, France, Britain, the United States and Germany - when he attends the U.N. General Assembly in New York this month.

Iran is ready for “meaningful, result-oriented and time-bound negotiations,” Najafi said, calling on the West not to speak to Iran “with a language of threat or sanctions.”

Western powers, who have imposed toughening sanctions on Iran over the last few years, say they hope that the election of Rouhani will lead to a softening of Tehran's approach.

But they stress that there is as yet no sign of Iran slowing its nuclear program. On the contrary, Western diplomats say, Iran has continued to expand its uranium enrichment capacity in recent months, potentially shortening the time it would need to produce sufficient highly-refined material for a bomb.

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