07252014Fri

Iran suggests progress, but no deal, in U.N. atom talks

By Yeganeh Torbati

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran indicated that some progress was made in talks with the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Wednesday, but that the two sides again failed to finalize an elusive framework deal over the Islamic state's disputed atomic activity.

Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said a new meeting would be held, without giving a date. There was no immediate comment from the IAEA about the one-day meeting in Tehran.

The IAEA had hoped to bridge persistent differences with Iran preventing the U.N. agency from restarting a long-stalled investigation into suspected nuclear weapons research by Tehran. Iran says the allegations are forged and baseless.

The apparent absence of a breakthrough deal in Wednesday's discussions in the Iranian capital will come as no surprise for Western diplomats, who have accused Iran of stonewalling the IAEA for years, a charge Tehran rejects.

World powers were watching the IAEA-Iran talks for signs that Tehran may finally be ready to start addressing their concerns over its nuclear program, which Tehran says is peaceful but the West fears is aimed at developing weapons.

Soltanieh said Iran and the IAEA had agreed on "some points" in the text of a planned framework agreement on how the IAEA should carry out its investigation, without giving details.

There was no immediate comment from the IAEA, which has been trying for more than a year to nail down such an accord giving it access to officials, documents and sites it says it needs for its inquiry in Iran.

"In addition to removing some differences and agreeing on some points in the text ... the two sides decided to review and exchange views about the new proposals that were given in this meeting, in the next meeting," Soltanieh said, according to Fars news agency.

AGREEMENT "NEAR" - STATE TV

Press TV, Iran's English-language state broadcaster, cited Soltanieh as saying that the remaining differences would be discussed in the next Iran-IAEA meeting. "Iran, IAEA near agreement on structured framework," it said in a headline.

The IAEA's immediate priority is to visit the Parchin military base southeast of Tehran, where it suspects explosives tests relevant to nuclear weapons may have taken place, perhaps a decade ago, an accusation Tehran denies.

The United States late last year set a March deadline for Iran to start cooperating in substance with the IAEA's investigation, warning Tehran that it might otherwise be referred to the U.N. Security Council.

Iran was first reported to the U.N. Security Council over its nuclear program by the IAEA's 35-nation board in 2006, and was then punished with U.N. sanctions.

The Islamic Republic denies Western allegations that its nuclear energy program is geared to developing the capability to produce atomic bombs. Iran says it is stockpiling enriched uranium only for civilian energy purposes.

On February 26, Iran and the six world powers are due, after a break of eight months to resume separate, broader negotiations in Kazakhstan aimed at finding a diplomatic settlement to the decade-old dispute and avert the threat of a new war in the Middle East.

The stakes are high: Israel, assumed to be the Middle East's only nuclear-armed power, has strongly hinted that it might take military action to prevent its foe acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

The six powers - the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany - want Iran to curb uranium enrichment and cooperate fully with the IAEA investigation.

Iran wants them to recognize what it sees as its right to refine uranium for peaceful purposes, and an easing of sanctions, which are hurting its oil-dependent economy.

(Additional reporting by Zahra Hosseinian in Zurich and Fredrik Dahl in Vienna; Editing by Michael Roddy)

Search

Act of Cowardice

Iran's ruling tyrants have executed yet another political prisoner in flagrant violation of international law.  READ MORE

The rush to Tehran amidst rise in executions

World leaders should halt these visits and link any deal with Iran to its human rights record.  READ MORE

Arming a dictator

What if President Obama ordered the sale of arms to Syrian dictator to massacre his opponents? READ MORE

Slaughter intensifies under Rouhani

231 executions have occurred since the presidential election in June which brought to power Hassan Rouhani. READ MORE

Silence is not the answer

Iran: Bloody crackdown targeting dissidents aims at terrorizing the people into submission. READ MORE

Iran’s Murder Machine

The wheels of Iran's Murder Machine turn in tandem with its nuclear machine. READ MORE

What now?

The West must drop the dangerous pretence that talking to a regime not interested in listening constitutes the winning strategy. READ MORE

A facelift

This cosmetic facelift should not dupe the West into thinking that there are fresh prospects for a nuclear deal. READ MORE

An Act of Cowardice

The terrorist attack against Iranian exiles at Camp Liberty, Iraq, is another sign of Iranian regime's weakness. READ MORE

Much atalk about nothing

In Istanbul they merely agreed to talk about talking later in May in Baghdad, of all places. READ MORE

An unholy alliance

The brutal state-imposed bloodbath in Syria deserves uncompromising reproach. READ MORE

Iran cries for freedom

The clerical regime in Iran has predictably unleashed another wave of terror against the citizenry since the outburst of the latest string of mass protests beginning on 14 February. READ MORE

A new Iran policy

The latest round of nuclear talks had an all-too-familiar result: more time for Tehran and less time for the international community to prevent a nuclear-armed theocracy. READ MORE

Murder overlooked

What would the rest of us do if a mad gunman was in our midst, systematically murdering our fellow human beings in front of our eyes? The responsible amongst us would not look the other way, because that would serve as a source of encouragement for the murderers to carry on with their heinous acts unchecked. READ MORE

Standing up to Iran's executioners

The Iranian regime's malicious noose has yet again taken an innocent life. Political prisoner Ali Saremi, 63, was hanged in Tehran's infamous Evin prison after a lifetime of peacefully espousing human rights and democracy. READ MORE