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IAEA Chief Sees Possibility of Imminent Discussion With Iran
Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency might convene a gathering of senior delegates "quite soon" to further discuss the Middle Eastern nation's contested nuclear efforts, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said on Wednesday in comments reported by Reuters.
Several 2012 exchanges between Tehran and Amano's organization have failed to yield a plan for resolving uncertainties on alleged Iranian nuclear bomb-relevant studies; the Persian Gulf regional power insists its atomic endeavors are strictly peaceful in nature.
"We don't have a specific date yet (for new talks)," he said to the news agency. "We have offered that we are willing to meet with them in the very near future ... That (will) be a high-level meeting and I hope we can have a meeting quite soon."
Tehran "generally speaking" has welcomed the potential for further discussions with IAEA officials, Amano said.
His remarks appeared to run counter to a report by one Western international relations official, who said the U.N. nuclear watchdog had "really been pushing Iran to set a date" without success.
"The delay is coming from the Iranian side," the insider asserted.
Separately, Amano said IAEA personnel "continue to see activities" at Iran's Parchin armed forces installation. He spoke in reference to an apparent effort to conceal incriminating material at the facility.
Tehran this year rejected several IAEA bids to send inspectors to the Parchin site, where Amano's agency believes the government might have previously assembled a tank for performing sensitive combustion studies. The Vienna, Austria-based organization has been monitoring the location using pictures taken from space.
A Sept. 19 satellite picture indicates that Iran has removed pink covering placed previously over selected structures at Parchin, according to a Wednesday analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington.
“Judging by the number of vehicles in the confines of the site, it appears that there is still considerable activity,” the independent group stated. “It is difficult to fully determine the scope and nature of the ongoing activity.”
“Alterations to the site for all intents and purposes have to be seen as cleanup operations with the intent to degrade or eliminate the IAEA’s ability to examine the site. It is increasingly difficult to believe that an IAEA visit will yield any significant breakthrough in the inspectors’ effort to find answers to questions about the military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear programs,” the ISIS report says.
Amano brushed off Iranian assertions that "terrorists and saboteurs" had joined his agency.
"Sometimes it is not useful to dignify these claims by providing an official answer," he said. "This is baseless ... We are not involved in these activities."
Meanwhile, the potential for Iran and six major governments to resume atomic discussions was a focus of comments issued on Tuesday by the office of European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Agence France-Presse reported. The 27-nation bloc this week adopted a new round of economic penalties aimed at prompting Tehran to resolve global fears over its nuclear aims.
"We are not doing sanctions for the sake of sanctions," Ashton spokesman Michael Mann told reporters. "We are ... open for talks."
"We have had good talks with Iran," the spokesman added. "We hope that the Iranians will be able to join us for talks. We are very hopeful that the Iranians will be able to come forward."
One European diplomatic insider said global punitive measures, EU petroleum restrictions and poor domestic governance might cause the Iranian economic system to fall apart early next year, the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday. Tehran would lose the ability to export goods and purchase materials internationally upon depleting its funds held in non-Iranian denominations, a development anticipated in six to 12 months, the source quoted official Western analysts as saying.
In addition, Western punitive steps could deprive Tehran of the ability to manufacture more money in the government's own denomination, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast on Tuesday said "Europe should prepare for facing the outcome of that (unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran)."
"This approach does not help resolve the problems and will adversely influence the economies of the European countries and nations under the current international financial crisis and Europe should prepare for the consequences," Iran's Fars News Agency quoted him as saying.
Elsewhere, the leader of Iran's Basij militia has rejected a press account of an Iranian plot to block the Strait of Hormuz by dumping petroleum in the strategic waterway, Reuters reported on Wednesday. Some Iranian officials and lawmakers have said the strait could be blocked in response to nuclear sanctions against their country.
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