Last updated: 27 April, 2012

Iran-IAEA talks to resume mid-May, says Tehran envoy

Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency will resume talks aimed at clearing up questions over Tehran’s nuclear programme in Vienna in mid-May, Iran’s envoy to the UN watchdog said on Friday.

“The next round of talks between Iran and the agency will be held on May 13 and 14 in Vienna,” Ali Asghar Soltanieh told the official news agency IRNA.

“This decision once again proves Iran’s determination to cooperate with the agency, confirms that claims against Iran are baseless, and shows that all of the Islamic republic’s nuclear activities are peaceful,” Soltanieh added.

The IAEA in Vienna declined to comment on the reported dates for the talks.

The watchdog said in a report on Iran in late February that it “continues to have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.”

Its concerns reflect suspicions by the United States and its European allies that Iran is seeking a nuclear weapons capability under the cover of its civilian atomic programme.

Those suspicions are the focus of separate talks between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group, comprising the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany, which were revived this month in Istanbul and which are to go to an important new round in Baghdad on May 23.

The IAEA-Iran discussions are expected to explore technical issues related to expanding the ongoing inspections of Tehran’s nuclear activities, which Iran’s leaders insist are purely peaceful in nature.

Soltanieh said the new IAEA-Iran talks would be aimed at “finding a framework and modality to respond to the (IAEA’s) questions.”

The last such discussions, in early February, ended in impasse when an IAEA team visiting Tehran said it had been repeatedly refused permission to inspect the Parchin military site near Tehran.

The UN agency said it had information suggesting experiments on nuclear warhead design had been carried out there, in areas not inspected during a 2005 visit.

Iran says it is under no obligation to allow access to Parchin because the site is not a declared nuclear activities facility.

Tehran is highly sensitive about allowing access to its military sites following a large explosion at a missile base in November and multiple assassinations of its nuclear scientists that it has blamed on Israel and the United States.

The UN Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions on Iran because of suspicions about its nuclear programme.