Iran, IAEA Continue Talks on Wednesday

A031190626.jpgIran and the International Atomic Energy Agency started a third day of their last round of talks on issues related to the Islamic Republic’s P1 and P2 centrifuges here on Wednesday.According to earlier reports, this will be the last round of talks between the two sides on centrifuge-related issues.

Earlier, IAEA deputy director for safeguard affairs Ollie Heinonen said that all the issues remaining between Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog would be resolved in the next few weeks.

Upon arrival at Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport on Monday, Heinonen said he was hopeful that his talks with Iranian nuclear officials would be successful.

“So far we have done many things but there remains a lot of other work that hopefully will be done,” Heinonen said.

Based on the result of these talks, ElBaradei is due to submit a report on the status of the Iranian uranium enrichment program by the end of November.

Mohammad Saeedi, the deputy head of Iran’s atomic energy organization, pledged to cooperate with the UN nuclear watchdog to clear up any remaining issues before the report comes out.

“It is possible that the agency raises new questions and points, before ElBaradei’s report, under the framework of the same (previous) questions,” said Saeedi, who greeted Heinonen at the airport.

“In this case, we will provide the necessary answers.”

Saeedi said that the talks on P1 and P2 centrifuges, through “explicit and open discussions,” were close to reaching a final conclusion.

The talks are part of a deal Heinonen clinched in August for Iran to answer outstanding questions over its atomic program so the agency can conclude a four-year investigation into its nature.

Olli Heinonen’s visit comes a day after IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said he had not received “any information” that Tehran was seeking nuclear weapons, as claimed by the United States.

Earlier an informed source told FNA that the results of the current talks between Iranian and IAEA experts will be announced late October.

He further described the talks between Tehran and the UN nuclear watchdog as “successful”, but declined to reveal the contents of the talks.

Meantime, the source, who spoke to FNA during the last round of talks, underlined that the two sides were through with the discussions about the source(s) of the uranium traces left on Iran’s centrifuges, saying that experts were discussing other issues in relation to the centrifuges.

Talks on Iran’s centrifuge machines started on September 25 and 26, but the two sides refrained from revealing the contents of their meetings.

In these meetings, the Iranian delegation is headed by the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Undersecretary Javad Vaeedi, while the IAEA team is presided by the IAEA deputy Director General Ollie Heinonen.

Similar to previous rounds, Heinonen is accompanied by IAEA director for foreign relations and policy making, IAEA regional director for safeguards, and IAEA’s legal advisor while Vaeedi is assisted by deputy chief of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Mohammad Saeedi and Iran’s permanent envoy to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh.

Heinonen and Vaeedi have already attended several rounds of talks on the issue, which both have described as “constructive”.

The talks are considered as a further step by Iran to build more confidence after it explained in written about the origin of uranium traces on its centrifuges last month.

Tehran also allowed IAEA inspectors in August to revisit a heavy-water reactor under construction outside Arak, central Iran.

The visit to Arak nuclear reactor was arranged as a result of a recent agreement between Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog. The two sides have recently signed an agreement on resolving the remaining issues about Iran’s past nuclear activities.

The talks between Iran and the IAEA followed a groundbreaking agreement gained during a June meeting between Iran’s former nuclear negotiator and Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Larijani and IAEA Director General Mohammad ElBaradei in Vienna.

According to Iran-IAEA agreement, the UN nuclear watchdog raises all its questions on the basis of a premeditated schedule, and Iran should provide the required answers according to the same time-table.

Once they are through with the aforementioned action plan, the two sides have agreed to find a proper way to resolve the differences about the implementation of the nuclear safeguards in Iran.

The plan has vexed the US by allowing Iran to answer questions one by one according to a timeline while leaving untouched its uranium-enrichment program.

It has also wrong-footed a US-led push to rein in Iran by eroding European support for, and stiffening Russian resistance to, tougher UN sanctions. Iran won the reprieve by threatening to cut off relations with the IAEA if pressure intensifies.

Talks between Iran and the IAEA are continued under such conditions that France has voiced strong support for the US efforts to impose a third set of sanctions on Iran.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has praised Iran’s cooperation with the agency as a significant step, but urged Tehran to answer all questions before the end of the year.

Iran has vowed to carry on its uranium enrichment, insisting its program is peaceful and geared solely toward producing electricity. The United States and key Western allies accuse Tehran of covertly trying to build a nuclear weapon, but they have never presented any corroborative evidence to substantiate their allegations. Tehran denies the charges vehemently.

The UN Security Council has already slapped two sets of sanctions, mostly economic and mainly targeting Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.

Iran has rejected both resolutions as illegal, saying it won’t give up its Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) right to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel.

In mid-September, the six countries involved in talks to persuade Iran to drop uranium enrichment delayed a vote on a new set of sanctions against the Islamic Republic until November. The vote was postponed pending reports from the IAEA director general and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

In talks with Tehran, the IAEA deputy director general for safeguards, Ollie Heinonen is always accompanied by IAEA director for foreign relations and policy making, IAEA regional director for safeguards, and IAEA’s legal advisor.

The inclusion of technical, legal and political officials in the IAEA delegation reveals that the two sides strive to solve their problems from different aspects.

While West has always sought to politicize Iran’s nuclear issue, Tehran insists that questions about its nuclear programs and activities are technical and legal in nature and should, thus, be verified by the IAEA and not by the UN Security Council.

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