Iran, IAEA begin first talks in 3 months

VIENNA (AFP/Reuters) - Iran and the UN nuclear agency started their first meeting in three months Monday, with world powers watching closely for clues on whether progress can be made in their talks in Baghdad next week.
The two-day meeting between Iran’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, and chief inspector Hermann Nackaerts aimed at clarifying suspicions Tehran had done nuclear weapons research. A senior UN nuclear official said Iran must give his inspectors access to information, people and sites as he began a two-day meeting with Iranian officials on the Islamic state’s disputed atomic activities on Monday.
“The aim of our two days (of talks) is to reach agreement on an approach to resolve all outstanding issues with Iran,” Herman Nackaerts, deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told reporters as he arrived at an Iranian diplomatic mission in a smart area of Vienna.
“In particular, clarification of the possible military dimensions remains our priority ... It is important now that we can engage on the substance of these issues and that Iran let us have access to people, documents, information and sites.” “We are here to continue our dialogue with Iran in a positive spirit,” Nackaerts told reporters as he went into the talks at Iran’s Vienna embassy.
The watchdog said Iran brushed aside extensive claims made in a November IAEA report that at least until 2003, and possibly since, activities took place which could only conceivably be aimed at developing nuclear weapons.
Iran also denied Nackaerts access to the Parchin military site near Tehran where, the November report alleged, Iran had conducted suspicious explosives tests in a large metal container, the IAEA said. IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said recently that access to Parchin was a “priority”, and Western diplomats said the site would be at the heart of this week’s meeting in Vienna.
Inspectors already visited Parchin near Tehran twice in 2005 and found nothing, Iran says, but the IAEA says it has since obtained additional information that makes it want to go back for another look.
Western countries also suspect that Iran is cleaning up the site in order to remove evidence.
Soltanieh said in March that any allegations of “sanitization” of the site were “a childish (and) ridiculous story made out of nothing.”
The talks in Vienna could give early clues on whether the good atmosphere seen in Turkey will continue in Iraq, where the P5+1 want to get down to the nuts and bolts of the almost decade-old dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme.
“The world powers will be watching closely to see if there are any signs of Iran shifting its position and becoming more accommodating,” said Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

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