World powers watch IAEA talks for signs of Iranian flexibility (+video)
Today's meeting between Iran and the IAEA to set up a framework to investigate a controversial Iranian military site is also seen as a warmup for Moscow talks later this month.
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His skepticism was reinforced by defiant remarks by Soltanieh, who accused the U.N. body on Wednesday of acting like a Western-manipulated spy service and said that Iran's military activities were none of its business.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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The Iranian envoy said Iran would "not permit our national security to be jeopardized," suggesting it might limit the scope of the U.N. inspectors' investigation.
A European diplomat said Soltanieh's remarks signaled that Iran would be in no mood to compromise in Friday's Vienna talks.
Earlier this week, the IAEA acknowledged a series of satellite photos of the Parchin complex that appeared to show evidence of a massive clean-up effort – demolished buildings, use of water in the area, and recently moved soil and fences – ratcheting up pressure on Iran to allow the investigation in order to alleviate Western suspicions about its purportedly civilian nuclear energy program.
If Iran agrees to a framework for investigating Parchin ahead of the Moscow talks, it could give the negotiations some much-needed flexibility. There is substantial distance between two parties' negotiating points right now – "Diamonds in return for peanuts,” as former nuclear negotiator for Iran Hossein Mousavian described them to AP.
“China hopes the Iranian side can weigh up the situation, take a flexible and pragmatic approach, have serious talks with all six related nations, and enhance dialogues and cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency so as to ensure the tensions can be eased through negotiations,” Hu told Ahmadinejad, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.
China, along with Russia, has been Iran's staunchest supporter in the P5 + 1 talks. It has opposed new sanctions on Iran as well as unilateral efforts to pressure Iran into concessions.
The only thing Iran and the P5 + 1 have in common right now is concern that a failure to reach an agreement would renew Israel's calls for a military strike on Iran, AP reports.
“This is both a poker game and a chess match on all sides,” said Bruno Tertrais, senior researcher at the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris. “There’s bluffing like with poker. There’s the effort to plot several moves ahead like in chess.”
“The only real tactic agreement, it seems, is that nobody wants the talks to fall apart,” he added. “They want — they need — to find a way to keep them going.”