Negotiators for the U.N. nuclear agency and Iran say they have made progress in talks focused on the agency’s probe of Tehran’s alleged work on nuclear weapons.
International Atomic Energy Agency chief negotiator Herman Nackaerts and Iranian envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh told reporters Tuesday that the two sides will meet again next week for more talks in Vienna.
The agreement on another meeting — set for Monday — was unexpected, and also indicated enough common ground to continue discussions.
Tehran insists its nuclear program is peaceful, but the U.S. and other world powers fear it is a cover for a planned weapons program.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
VIENNA (AP) — Iran’s envoy to talks with the U.N. nuclear agency said Tuesday the meeting was going well, as the two sides began their second day of discussion of agency suspicions that Tehran might have tested atomic arms technology.
Iran denies such accusations, insisting its nuclear program is geared only toward producing nuclear energy. Still, the International Atomic Energy Agency has been unable to gain access to a specific site it suspects of being used for such work for three months. Overall, it has been stonewalled for more than four years on its attempt to visit such facilities, as well as interview scientists it suspects may have been involved and to look at relevant documents.
That site is at the military base of Parchin, where the IAEA believes Iran ran explosives tests used to set off a nuclear charge in 2003, in a pressure chamber that was later hidden by a building put up around it. Recent satellite imagery shows what IAEA officials believe is an attempt to clean up the site, ahead of a possible IAEA inspection.
A senior diplomat familiar with the IAEA probe says Iran has never said whether the chamber existed. A computer-generated drawing provided to the AP by a nation critical of Iran’s nuclear program shows such a structure, with the official who shared it saying it was drawn based on information from someone who saw it. Former IAEA Deputy Director Olli Heinonen says it jibes with a photo he has seen that depicts the chamber, down to the matching colors.
Going into Tuesday’s meeting at the Iranian mission to the IAEA and other U.N. organizations, Iranian envoy Ali Asghar Soltanieh told reporters “everything is on the right track.” He described the atmosphere as “very constructive,” adding that talks on Monday were “good.”
IAEA chief negotiator Herman Nackaerts said he could not comment on ongoing talks.