Iran, IAEA Launch Discussions in Tehran

International Atomic Energy Agency officials prepare for their flight from Vienna, Austria, to Iran on Tuesday. The U.N. agency's latest round of nuclear talks with Iranian officials began on Tuesday in Tehran (AP Photo/Ronald Zak).
International Atomic Energy Agency officials prepare for their flight from Vienna, Austria, to Iran on Tuesday. The U.N. agency's latest round of nuclear talks with Iranian officials began on Tuesday in Tehran (AP Photo/Ronald Zak).

The International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran on Wednesday launched the latest in a series of discussions intended to establish terms for the U.N. nuclear watchdog to investigate longstanding uncertainties over possible nuclear weapon-relevant activities in the Middle Eastern nation, Agence France-Presse reported.

Agency safeguards chief Herman Nackaerts headed an eight-person delegation to the meeting in Tehran, according to the Iranian Students' News Agency. The official previously indicated the sides had achieved progress in a December meeting, but IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano more recently said he was unsure if the agency would able to carry forward its probe in Iran, which defends its nuclear activities as strictly peaceful.

"Throughout this process, the director general has always said that we are approaching these talks in a constructive spirit," Nackaerts said on Tuesday before leaving Vienna, Austria. "Also this time we are approaching it in the same spirit, and we trust that Iran will work with us in the same spirit."

The IAEA official reaffirmed his organization's desire to examine an Iranian armed forces installation thought to have engaged in atomic arms-relevant experimentation. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast, though, on Tuesday said the Parchin facility "has no connection with Iran's nuclear activities."

The IAEA and Iranian officials were due to meet for further discussions on Thursday, Reuters reported.

Mehmanparast said his government on Monday had agreed to timing for separate talks planned with six key nations, Iran's Fars News Agency reported. Senior-level Iranian diplomats held three meetings last year with counterparts from China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States in a bid to resolve international concerns that Tehran's nuclear program is aimed at development of a nuclear-weapon capability.

Iranian Supreme National Security Council Undersecretary Ali Bagheri finalized the schedule during a telephone conversation with Helga Schmid, a delegate for European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Mehmanparast said on Tuesday without elaborating. The event is due to take place on Jan. 28 and 29, ISNA reported on Wednesday.

Schmid "must as soon as possible convey the group's proposal for the venue so we can resume the talks," Mehmanparast said in comments reported by AFP on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Washington is slated on Feb. 6 to implement new rules for international financial restrictions already in place against Iran, raising fears in the country of further obstacles to transferring billions of dollars currently frozen in foreign banks, the Christian Science Monitor reported on Tuesday.

January 16, 2013
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The International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran on Wednesday launched the latest in a series of discussions intended to establish terms for the U.N. nuclear watchdog to investigate longstanding uncertainties over possible nuclear weapon-relevant activities in the Middle Eastern nation, Agence France-Presse reported.

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