UN nuclear watchdog announces talks with Iran – and suspicions about a coverup
The International Atomic Energy Agency announced it would meet with Iran in Vienna this week and also acknowledged concerns about a cleanup at a military site where it suspects past weapons-related activities.
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“They hit a bump,” David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington research group that tracks the Iranian nuclear program, said in a telephone interview. “Amano is trying to expedite things to make sure it’s not a stalling measure. The agency needs to expedite this and find out if the Iranians are serious.”Skip to next paragraph
Middle East Editor
Ariel Zirulnick is the Monitor's Middle East editor, overseeing regional coverage both for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She is also a contributor to the international desk's terrorism and security blog.
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Bloomberg reports that although Amano did not specify the purpose of the June 8 talks, "it was clear" that the IAEA would pressure Iran to finalize arrangements for the organization to resume its investigation into Iran's nuclear program, which has been on hold for more than four years.
Meanwhile, world powers – the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany (known as the P5 + 1) – have been trying to persuade Iran to halt its uranium enrichment, which Iran insists is for civilian energy purposes. Talks are scheduled to pick up again in Moscow on June 18. The last IAEA meeting, held in Baghdad in May, opened with optimism about Iran and world powers finding some common ground, but negotiators had little to show at its conclusion, reports the Monitor.
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said that an agreement between the IAEA and Iran could "greatly empower the diplomatic process" between Iran and the P 5 +1 if the IAEA is able to secure the ability to conduct a "rigorous" investigation into allegations of nuclear weapons work. With such a safeguard, the United Nations Security Council might be willing to allow Iran to continue enriching uranium, Reuters reports.
So far, that seems unlikely. Amano said yesterday that Iran was not giving the IAEA what it needed in order to provide "credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities," according to Reuters.