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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Iran and Atomic Agency In First Talks Since Rouhani Election

Vienna (AFP) – Following a diplomatic frenzy in New York, Iran on Friday went into talks with the UN atomic agency, their 11th such meeting but the first since President Hassan Rouhani’s election.

Iran’s new envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency immediately downplayed the chances of an imminent breakthrough, however, saying an agreement would take time.

“This is the first meeting so nobody I guess should expect that in just one day meeting we can solve our problems,” Reza Najafi told reporters.

The IAEA regularly inspects Iran’s nuclear activities and every quarter its reports outline a continued expansion in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.

Western countries want the IAEA to keep a closer eye on Iran to better detect any attempt to “break out” and produce highly-enriched uranium for an atomic bomb.

But the main focus of Friday’s talks was the IAEA’s wish for Iran to address allegations that before 2003, and possibly since, it conducted research work into making an actual nuclear weapon.

The agency has failed in 10 meetings since early 2012 to press Iran to grant it access to personnel, sites and documents related to these activities, set out in a major November 2011 report by the IAEA.

The allegations were based in large part on information provided to the IAEA from spy agencies like the CIA and Israel’s Mossad, intelligence which Iran rubbishes and complains it has not even been allowed to see.

The sites include the Parchin military base where the IAEA wants to probe claims that scientists conducted explosives tests that would be “strong indicators of possible nuclear weapon development”.

Western countries have accused Iran of literally bulldozing evidence at Parchin, and IAEA head Yukiya Amano said in June that heavy construction work spotted by satellites means “it may no longer be possible to find anything even if we have access”.

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