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

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Video One Year After Massacre, Iraq’s Yazidis a Broken People

Minority community still recovering from devastating assault by IS militants which spurred massive outrage More

‘Malvertisements’ Undermine Internet Trust

Hackers increasingly prey on users' trust of major websites to delivery malicious software More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs