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World Powers Want 'Serious' Dialogue On Iran's Nuclear Program


Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi is the country's former nuclear negotiator and head of its Atomic Energy Organization.
World powers say proposed upcoming talks with Iran on that country's nuclear program must be "serious," without preconditions, and should produce "concrete results."

The call was made in a joint statement released on March 8 at a board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, by the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain, and Germany.

The IAEA statement follows an announcement on March 6 by the group of world powers saying they had agreed to a February proposal from Iran to resume talks on Tehran's nuclear program, which the West suspects is aimed at developing nuclear weapons.

Iran has said it is ready to resume the deadlocked talks at the "earliest" opportunity, on the condition that its right to peaceful atomic energy will be respected. It denies any efforts to develop nuclear arms.

Details about where and when the proposed renewed talks between the world powers and Iran have not yet been announced. The last such talks, in Istanbul in January 2011, broke down without results.

Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told a news conference in Vienna on March 8 that Tehran was ready to continue working with the UN atomic watchdog, although he offered no specifics.

"We are ready to continue our engagement with the IAEA, provided that, as I said, the agency secretariat will follow the expectations and fulfill the expectations to do its impartial, professional work with Iran," Soltanieh said.

Parchin Visit 'May Be Possible'

The IAEA statement also urged Iran to open a suspected nuclear weapons facility to international inspectors.

Iran refused access to the Parchin site during a pressure-packed visit by an IAEA team earlier this year. Iranian nuclear negotiators indicated this week that an inspection of Parchin might now be possible.

The Western powers along with China and Russia on March 9 urged "Iran to fulfill its undertaking to grant access to Parchin."

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano on March 5 appeared to allege that Iran was removing evidence at Parchin, saying "activities" spotted by satellite "make us believe that going there sooner is better than later."

Amano also said that Iran has not formally contacted the UN nuclear watchdog about any inspector access to Parchin and reiterated his call for Tehran to allow international monitors unrestricted access to the site.

"The agency should be able to do its verification work unhampered," Amano said. "If too many restrictions are placed on the agency, we cannot do our job properly."

Robert Wood, the acting head of the U.S. mission to the IAEA, said: "I don't want to get into intelligence issues or anything like that, but certainly there have been reports out there that Iran has been so-called 'sanitizing' the Parchin site.

"If that's really happening, that is of great concern to us, and I think it kind of makes sense why Iran denied the agency access and was very concerned about providing access to the agency. So I don't know what is going on there at Parchin, but the reports are very disturbing."

The IAEA-related statement on Iran's nuclear posture came as Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted as telling clerics from Iran's Assembly of Experts that U.S. President Barack Obama's comments this week -- when he cited a possible "window of opportunity" with Iran and criticized "loose talk of war" -- are "good words" and show "an exit from delusion."

With AFP, Reuters, AP, and dpa reporting