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Amano Voices Doubt on IAEA-Iran Meeting's Prospects
The International Atomic Energy Agency intends in a Friday meeting with Iran to again request to examine a suspected one-time site of nuclear weapon-relevant research in the nation, but the planned session holds no promise of yielding substantial progress, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said on Wednesday in comments reported by Reuters.
Iran has rejected multiple bids by the U.N. nuclear watchdog in 2012 to examine the Parchin armed forces installation, where agency personnel believe the country might have assembled a tank for performing sensitive combustion studies. Iran insists its atomic activities have no military component, and has demanded a detailed agreement on investigation terms before opening the site to auditors.
"I cannot be too optimistic," Amano said. "We have been making our best efforts in a constructive spirit to work out an agreement between Iran and IAEA, but so far we have not been successful in reaching agreement."
"I have no indication this will change very soon," he said.
"Through the satellite imagery we think that Iran is moving soil, demolishing buildings, using water, removing fences, doing landscape activities. We think this would hamper our verification activities," the IAEA chief added. "Nevertheless we keep on requesting Iran to give us access to the building at the site of Parchin."
By potentially acting on Friday to place locations, records or personnel of concern within the U.N. organization's reach, Tehran might be able to alter the content of a forthcoming IAEA safeguards report on its atomic efforts, according to Reuters.
The Vienna, Austria-based agency has yet to reach final determinations on the matter, according to its leader.
"We are not saying Iran has nuclear weapons, we are not saying Iran has made a decision (to that end)," Amano stated. "(But) because pieces of information do indicate activities..., we would like Iran to engage with us to clarify these issues."
An IAEA group now in development would bring together specialists in areas including armament systems, intelligence interpretation and radioactivity in a bid to bolster the investigation into possible Iranian nuclear bomb-related efforts, four envoys said in a Thursday report by the Associated Press.
The planned group indicates the U.N. nuclear watchdog has assigned a high level of importance to the Persian Gulf regional power, as establishing a group to address just one nation is atypical for the agency, according to AP.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration on Wednesday said an opportunity remains for achieving a negotiated resolution to the atomic dispute, Agence France-Presse reported.
"We believe there is still time for diplomacy to work -- but we need to see a better effort from the Iranians to answer the concerns that we've had," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. "We are focused on trying to have this dual-track policy of diplomacy backed by pressure work. And we are still focused on that."
"We are focused on combining diplomacy and pressure, trying to get Iran to be serious at the negotiating table and we are in full consultations with the Israelis about the picture that we see, and we will continue to make those points clear," the official said.
"We have made absolutely clear to [Israel] that our view is that there is still time for diplomacy to work," but the nation's protection is of "paramount concern" to Washington, Nuland said.
The administration has said it is ready to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions through military action should a strategy of intensified sanctions and diplomatic engagement fail to resolve the longstanding impasse. However, Israeli officials have voiced concern that delaying action would give Tehran time to render key atomic assets less vulnerable to attack by transferring them to better protected sites.
Analysts of the Persian Gulf region said Tel Aviv would probably give Washington little or no warning of an Israeli armed action against Iranian atomic assets, USA Today reported on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the United Nations on Wednesday said its top official would travel to a Nonaligned Movement gathering in Iran next week, AP reported.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would communicate calls by other governments for Tehran to promptly address concerns over its atomic activities and other matters, spokesman Martin Nesirky said.
The spokesman said Ban could use the event to "speak on behalf of the entire international community to make clear directly to the Iranian leadership what the world expects from Tehran and to encourage positive and constructive responses."
The U.N. chief is "fully aware of the [trip's] sensitivities," but would not allow "a missed opportunity," Nesirky added.
Ban anticipates participating in "meaningful and fruitful discussions" with high-level Iranian officials, including supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the spokesman said.
Nuland, though, said Washington fears Tehran "is going to manipulate this opportunity and the attendees to try to deflect attention from its own failings."
"This is a country that is in violation of all kinds of U.N. obligations and has been destabilizing force," she said.
The U.N. leader and additional meeting participants would do well to draw attention to Tehran's atomic commitments, as well as the government's chance in dialogue "to begin to come clean on their nuclear program and to solve this particular issue diplomatically."
Elsewhere, the Canada Border Services Agency appears to be short on personnel and has failed to intercept a number of deliveries aimed at benefiting Iranian atomic efforts, Postmedia News reported on Wednesday, quoting recently disclosed records.
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