IAEA chief begins talks with Iran
DHAKA: United Nations nuclear chief Yukiya Amano started talks with senior Iranian officials on Monday, Iranian media reported.
Diplomats say his one-day visit to Tehran could lead to an agreement for further inspections of Iranian nuclear sites.
Hours after his pre-dawn arrival in Tehran, Amano met the head of Iran’s nuclear energy organisation, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, ISNA news agency reported.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief is also scheduled to meet Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and Iranian foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi during the day.
Amano voiced optimism upon his arrival in Tehran, saying he was hopeful he would be able to reach a deal to investigate suspected atom bomb research - a possible breakthrough that Iran hopes could help ease Western sanctions pressure and deflect threats of war.
‘I really think this is the right time to reach agreement. Nothing is certain but I stay positive’, Amano said at Vienna airport, adding ‘good progress’ had already been made.
But though Amano scheduled Monday’s talks with Iran at such short notice that diplomats said agreement on new inspections seemed near, few see Tehran convincing Western governments to ease back swiftly on punitive measures when its negotiators meet big power officials in Baghdad on Wednesday.
By promising cooperation with UN inspectors, diplomats say Iran might aim for leverage ahead of the broader negotiations, where the United States and its allies want Iran to halt works they say are cover for developing nuclear weapons.
Western sanctions on Iran`s energy exports, and threats by Israel and Washington of military action, have pushed up world oil prices.
Western diplomats say Amano, a veteran Japanese diplomat, would only make a rare visit to Tehran if he believed a framework agreement to give his inspectors freer hands in their investigation was close.
BDST: 1519 HRS, MAY 21, 2012
Edited by Robab Rosan, Cultural Affairs Editor