11 November 2013, 19:09

Iran, IAEA postpone nuclear weapons probe

Iran, IAEA postpone nuclear weapons probe

Iran agreed Monday to allow more extensive international inspections of its civilian nuclear programme, but an agreement signed with the UN nuclear watchdog postponed a probe into alleged nuclear weapons projects.

"This is an important step forward to start with, but much more needs to be done," International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief, Yukiya Amano, said in Tehran after signing the deal with Ali Akhbar Salehi, the head of Iran's nuclear programme.

Amano explained that the nuclear weapons issue would be addressed at a later stage under the so-called "Framework for Cooperation".

The partial agreement came a day after Geneva talks between Iran and six world powers ended without a deal on curbing Tehran's controversial uranium enrichment programme in exchange for an easing of economic sanctions, although both sides said that much progress had been achieved in Switzerland.

Under Monday's agreement, Tehran will inform the IAEA about new reactors and uranium enrichment sites already in the early planning phase, contrary to Tehran's current policy of providing details only shortly before such installations are completed.

The framework also obliges Iran to allow inspections at a uranium mine and at Arak, where a plutonium-producing reactor is under construction.

All of these first steps are to be implemented within three months.

The issue of nuclear weapons "will be addressed in the subsequent steps under the framework for cooperation," Amano said.

Monday's deal amounts to a concession by the IAEA, which had been insisting that any agreement must address the possible military dimension of Iran's atomic drive.

Iranian leaders say Western intelligence findings about weapons are fabricated, and that they are only pursuing nuclear energy and science projects.

Meanwhile, Western powers stressed that Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany - the so-called P5+1 - had presented a united front in Geneva. The comment followed reports that France's hard-line stance had prevented a deal.

A German Foreign Ministry spokesman said France had shown a "constructive stance" and that the P5+1 would "work on solutions in close coordination among all group members."

US Secretary of State John Kerry said in Abu Dhabi that Iran had not agreed to the proposal by the six powers in Geneva.

A new round of talks in the Swiss city has been scheduled for November 20-21.

IAEA, Iran sign joint statement on nuclear cooperation

The United Nations Atomic agency said it and Iran on Monday signed a joint statement on future cooperation to resolve remaining nuclear issues.

The agreement opens the way for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to visit the Arak heavy water site and Gachin uranium mine and for measures requested by the agency to be implemented.

"The practical measures will be implemented in the next three months, starting from today," IAEA head Yukiya Amano said in a news conference in Tehran, broadcast on state television.

"I have received permission for inspectors to visit the Arak heavy water plant and the Gachin mine, which has been requested by the agency, and Iran has voluntarily announced its readiness for this," ISNA quoted Salehi as saying.

Amano said the agreement would be followed by the implementation of a number of practical steps in the next three months. He described the framework as an important step forward but there was "still a lot of work to be done", ISNA reported.

The agreement is intended to set up an inspection regime to allow the IAEA to ascertain whether Iran's nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only, a claim offered repeatedly by Iranian officials.

It has asked for access to sites, officials and documents in Iran as part of its inquiry

Iranian nuclear chief says Tehran, IAEA agreed cooperation roadmap

Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi has announced that Tehran and the global nuclear watchdog, IAEA, have agreed a roadmap for atomic cooperation, media report.

The news comes as Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, arrived in the Iranian capital Monday following the failed talks between Tehran and a group of six world powers.

The fact that Mr. Amano himself decided to head the delegation to Iran has been perceived by experts as a positive sign.

Iran put forth its proposals during the recent round of nuclear talks in Vienne on October 28. The details were not disclosed, although both parties described the meeting as “very constructive.”

Back then, a diplomatic source in Vienne hinted to journalists that the progress of discussions could be judged by the rank of IAEA delegates that would go to Tehran on November 11.

The visit of the nuclear watchdog’s delegation follows the Geneva nuclear negotiations that wrapped up without any deal, although participants in the talks said they had created a basis to build on in the future.

Russia’s foreign policy chief Sergei Lavrov commented on the meetings saying the mediators had for the first time abandoned their tactic of threatening Iran with sanctions.

Kerry denies reports of divisions among big powers at Iran talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry denied on Monday reports that major powers were divided at talks with Iran aimed at resolving a dispute about its nuclear programme, adding it was the Islamic Republic that could not agree to a proposed deal.

Speaking at a news conference with United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan in Abu Dhabi, Kerry said the major powers were "unified on Saturday when we presented a proposal to the Iranians, and the French signed off on it, we signed off on it, and everybody agreed it was a fair proposal. There was unity, but Iran couldn't take it at that particular moment, they weren't able to accept that particular thing."

US not in race to complete Iran talks - Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday Washington was not engaged in a race to complete talks with Iran on its nuclear programme and vowed to defend Washington's regional allies against any threats.

Speaking at a news conference with United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan in Abu Dhabi, Kerry also praised the Syrian opposition's decision to participate in a proposed peace conference as "a big step forward".

"This is not a race to complete just any agreement," Kerry said, adding: "Through diplomacy we have an absolute responsibility to pursue an agreement."

Marathon talks between six major world powers - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, Germany and France - and Iran on Saturday ended without agreement and the sides arranged to meet again on November 20.

While saying that an agreement with Iran was expected within months, Kerry sought to reassure Washington's Arab allies and Israel that his country would not abandon them.

"We will stand up for and defend our allies in this region against any kind of external threat, so this is a strong strategic relationship and I look forward to continuing our important dialogue ... and to strengthening the relationship," Kerry said.

Kerry hopes to reach Iran nuclear deal within months

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday he hoped a deal ending a dispute on Iran's nuclear programme would be completed within months. Kerry added that he was confident such an agreement would protect US ally Israel.

Chances high for formulating approaches towards Iran deal – Lavrov

The Sextet of international mediators and Iran have good chances to word approaches that could be used as a basis for a general document, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday after talks with his counterparts from India and China, Salman Khurshid and Wang Yi, respectively.

“The meeting [in Geneva] demonstrated that over that past year polemics and exchange of initial positions without any attempt to bring them closer are paling into insignificance in talks on this subject, while coming into the fore is the understanding that it is necessary to work on issues that arouse concern from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the international community, which need to be resolved,” the Russian minister said. “Iran’s new leadership, and we hail it, has demonstrated its commitment to make steps in this direction and the talks with Iranian representatives were utterly concrete concerning practical aspects of the Iranian nuclear programme.”

“It is of principal importance for us, since Russia, as other members of the Tree Plus Three group and the world community in general, is interested in removing any risks for the regime of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons,” Lavrov went on to say. “It might be done only by means of talks, so it is pleasing that Russia’s position it has been promoting for years in now heard by all participants in the Tree Plus Three group.”

“This position is the avoidance of threats and the permanent use of the “leverage” of sanctions bypassing the United Nations Security Council and the discussion of the substance of the matter. This is how it was at the talks,” he noted. “Once again I would like to note the very important role played by the delegation from the United State led by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. They were very active in their efforts to reach agreements that would help find common approaches between all of us and Syria.

“We have managed to reach considerable progress. I shared details with the Indian and Chinese foreign ministers during our today’s meeting,” he added.

On November 20, the Sextet political directors will meet to word the approaches that might constitute a joint document. “The chances are very high,” he added.

Lavrov calls for more ‘political will’ over Iran nuclear problem

Russian foreign policy chief, Sergei Lavrov, has called on world powers to show more "political will" in tackling the Iranian nuclear problem.

This statement came today as the P5+1 mediator group of Russia, China, France, the UK, the US and Germany concluded the fresh round of talks with Iran on its uranium enrichment program, which the international nuclear watchdog IAEA fears to be aimed at producing an atomic bomb.

Speaking on Sunday on the heels of the Geneva talks, Sergei Lavrov urged mediators to “show maximum political will” in finding a peaceful solution to the nuclear stalemate.

The Russian foreign office said its chief proposed some major improvements aimed at “optimizing the working process between P5+1 and Iran”.

The office said that negotiating parties had held intensive talks that covered the whole spectrum of issues rooted in Iran’s nuclear program.

The negotiations focused on initial steps required to build trust and narrow differences between Tehran and the international community.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the end goal was to outline a path towards a “final, comprehensive and long-lasting settlement”.

The recent round of Iranian talks finished on Sunday in Geneva, Switzerland, without a conclusive deal, although US Secretary of State John Kerry said "significant progress" had been made on the differences that remain.

The next meet-up has already been set for November 20.

Iran nuclear talks in Geneva conclude without deal

Negotiations between Iran and six world powers on Tehran's nuclear programme ended early in the morning on Sunday. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that no deal had been reached at the international talks in Geneva.

"The meetings in Geneva have made it possible to move forward, but we have not yet managed to conclude (a deal), because there are still some questions remaining to be dealt with," Fabius said.

'It was time well-spent'

Iran and the world powers have agreed to continue a step-by-step dialog towards a nuclear deal. The group of six international mediators will be building on mutuality, Russia’s foreign policy chief Sergei Lavrov announced in Geneva following the recent round of talks.

“We had very concrete and lengthy negotiations but it was time well-spent, because we have created grounds for cooperation that will help us decide how to deal with the Iranian nuclear problem in terms of IAEA and UN Security Council requirements,” Lavrov told reporters.

Sergei Lavrov said foreign ministers had agreed to go ahead with discussions step by step, which is an approach that was welcomed by Tehran.

The Russian veteran diplomat said this careful approach had long been lobbied by his country, and now it has officially been confirmed as the framework for future dialog that would focus on a key Iran/E3+3 agreement.

“Our ultimate goal is to see IAEA/UN SC requirements implemented in full,” Lavrov reiterated. “Not all details were agreed, but everyone showed commitment to a constructive dialog”.

The Russian foreign chief underscored the contribution made by US Secretary of State, John Kerry, to advocate Iran’s interests during the Geneva talks. He stressed this attitude bore “special significance” at the current stage of negotiations.

Kerry says world powers closer to nuclear deal with Iran

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday that world powers had come closer during negotiations with Iran in Geneva to a deal on reining in its nuclear programme and that "with good work" the goal could be reached.

Kerry made the statement at a news conference after a three-day meeting, between Iran and six powers, that ended without an agreement. Both sides, however, said progress had been made and negotiators would meet again on Nov. 20.

"We came to Geneva to narrow the differences and I can tell you without any exaggeration we not only narrowed the differences and clarified those that remain, but we made significant progress in working through the approaches to the question of how one reins in a program and guarantees its peaceful nature," Kerry said.

Iran hopes for nuclear deal at next meeting

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday he hoped Iran and six world powers would reach an agreement when they gather again in 10 days, adding that the latest round of talks was something all delegations can build on.

"We have had some intense negotiations and discussions and our objective is to reach a conclusion and that's what we will come back to try and do," Ashton told reporters early on the fourth day of negotiations in the Swiss city of Geneva.

European Union foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, who coordinated the talks, said Iran and the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany would meet again on Nov. 20. She said that they made progress in their talks but some issues remained.

Read more:

- EU's Ashton says Iran nuclear talks to reconvene on Nov 20

- Iranian FM joins late-night meeting of world powers at nuclear talks

- Iran talks to resume in 7-10 days if no deal made on November 9 - Zarif

- Ashton, Lavrov discuss obstacles to Iran deal

-Gaps still to be bridged with Iran, no nuke deal yet - Kerry

Voice of Russia, RIA, TASS, AFP, Reuters, Interfax, dpa

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