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

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora