June 20, 2013
Iran hopes for 'successful' nuclear talks with UN
An Iranian envoy voiced hope that talks with the UN nuclear watchdog in mid-May would help resolve "outstanding issues", but he again ruled out any halt to the Islamic state's controversial uranium enrichment program.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Saturday it would resume discussions with Iran on May 14-15 - more than two months after their last meeting over concerns about Tehran's atomic activities ended in failure.
"We hope that this will be a very constructive and successful meeting," Iran's ambassador to the Vienna-based IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told Reuters.
"The main purpose is to negotiate on a modality and framework to resolve outstanding issues and remove ambiguities," he added, echoing language he and other Iranian officials have used before previous meetings that yielded no notable progress.
He suggested that only after such a "framework" for future cooperation had been agreed could Iran consider an IAEA request for access to a military site where the U.N. agency believes nuclear-related weapons research may have taken place.
"Every action will be implemented based on this framework, afterward," Soltanieh said when asked whether the IAEA could visit Parchin southeast of the capital Tehran.
Western diplomats, who suspect Iran may be "sanitizing" Parchin ahead of any visit, have said Tehran still appears to be stonewalling over the U.N. body's most pressing demand to let its inspectors travel to the site.
The IAEA last November issued a report detailing alleged Iranian research and development activities that were relevant to manufacturing nuclear weapons, lending independent weight to Western suspicions based on intelligence findings.