IAEA Chief Leaves for Vienna after Fruitful Talks in Tehran

A033411033.jpgTEHRAN (FNA) UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei returned to the IAEA headquarters in Vienna after two days of fruitful talks with Iranian officials.

During his two-day sojourn in Tehran, the International Atomic Energy Agency director general conferred with high ranking Iranian officials, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, about the latest developments and future prospects of the two sides’ cooperation.

In his meetings with the Iranian officials, ElBaradei was demanded to keep his international body independent and strive not to be influenced by big powers.

In what observers described as a crucially important meeting, the Supreme Leader told ElBaradei that Iran considers the IAEA as the only authority to address Tehran’s nuclear issue, reiterating that the Security Council’s oversight of Iran’s dossier is unjustified.

“There is no justification for Iran’s nuclear dossier to remain at the UN Security Council,” he said.

Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran would not succumb to US pressure on its nuclear program.

“The Americans wrongly assume that they will be able to break the Islamic Republic of Iran by pressuring Iran over the nuclear issue, but they will not be able to bring the Iranian nation to its knees by raising this issue or other issues,” he said.

Iran is currently under two sets of UN Security Council sanctions and Washington is pushing for additional UN penalties for Tehran’s refusal to freeze uranium enrichment even after the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear activities and programs was substantiated not only by the UN nuclear watchdog agency, but also by the intelligence bodies of the arch foe, the United States itself.

A recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and a similar report by the IAEA head in November which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities, Russia and China increased resistance to any further punitive measures by the Security Council.

Tehran says it never worked on atomic weapons and wants to enrich uranium only to produce fuel for power plant reactors that would generate electricity, a claim substantiated by the NIE and IAEA report.

International observers believe that Bush has lost the raison detre and the needed pretext for rallying international pressure against Iran’s nuclear program.

Not only many Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but also many other world nations have called the UN Security Council pressure unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports saying Iran had increased cooperation with the agency.

ElBaradei, who arrived in Tehran on Friday, called for more extensive cooperation between the two sides, and expressed the hope that outstanding issues would be resolved before he presents his next report to the IAEA Board of Governors in March.

In a separate meeting on Saturday, President Ahmadinejad told ElBaradei that he hoped the IAEA would not be influenced by the “pressure of big powers” while probing Iran’s nuclear program.

“Some countries assume that the IAEA has been set up to enforce their policies,” Ahmadinejad said. “This assumption disturbs natural and just conditions.”

He described nuclear energy as a God grace, and said that all countries will feel a much stronger need to this source of energy in the next two to three decades, stressing that all nations should be provided with legal opportunities to exploit such a clean energy (resource).

The president said great powers have been promoting the wrong idea that nuclear energy means atomic bomb, and underlined that such a discourse used by great powers to interpret nuclear energy should be ended.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran recognizes the Agency as the only party to its nuclear issue, yet this may not prevent negotiation with other countries over different issues,” he added.

For his part, the UN nuclear watchdog chief said that Iran’s nuclear activities are on due course, and called for more extensive cooperation between Iran and IAEA in various grounds.

Also in his talks with Iranian officials, the UN nuclear watchdog chief expressed the hope that continued cooperation between Tehran and the IAEA would lead to the normalization of Iran’s nuclear issue by the next meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors in March.

ElBaradei said in a meeting with Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili here in Tehran on Saturday, the IAEA head said he was hopeful that the two sides could resolve all remaining issues before the next meeting of the governing board.

He further praised Tehran for showing intimate cooperation with the IAEA, saying, “Iran’s active and constructive cooperation with the Agency has resulted in a very good progress in resolving the remaining issues.”

Also during the one-and-a-half-hour meeting, the two sides stressed the need for a proper solution to normalize Tehran’s issue, and reiterated, “This logical principle that Iran is not an exception should be the basis” when dealing with Iran’s case.

For his part, the Iranian chief nuclear negotiator viewed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the IAEA’s articles of association as the best paradigm for nuclear activity and mutual cooperation.

“While insisting on its inalienable rights to access and utilize peaceful nuclear energy and technology, Iran is committed to its undertakings within the framework of the NPT and the IAEA,” Saeed Jalili reiterated.

He further said that Iran attaches much importance and credit to the IAEA as it believes that the agency, as an international body, can play a constructive role in creating balance between the nuclear rights and assignments of countries.

Iran’s nuclear issue was a good test for all parties and the Iranian nation passed this test honorably as it showed a legal and logical attitude and fulfilled all its undertakings within the framework of the NPT and took confidence building measures on one hand, and showed resistance in restoring and practicing its nuclear rights on the other hand, Jalili said.

He also welcomed ElBaradei’s positive role, and said that strengthening professional and impartial performance and non-political approach of the IAEA would help restore credibility of the agency and reinvigorate IAEA’s constructive role in Iran’s case.

“Some powers try to create obstacles in IAEA’s non-biased and professional methods in verifying Iran’s nuclear activities and to downgrade the agency from its international status,” Jalili, who is also Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) added.

Meantime, he said that verification of Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities will be, in fact, a test to examine behavioral honesty of certain powers as well, which “will show whether or not transparency of Iran’s nuclear program and substantiation of the baselessness of allegations about (Iran’s nuclear) activities would lead to a change in their political and illegal behavior.”

Elsewhere in a meeting with Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Saturday, ElBaradei stated, “Consolidation of Iran-IAEA cooperation has already been useful and significant and we view continued strengthening of this trend as positive for all.”

He also said that any effort assisting the aforementioned process could help solution of the nuclear issue.

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