TEHRAN (FNA)- The second man of United Nations nuclear watchdog agency began talks with Iranian officials in Tehran on Thursday over the country’s nuclear program.
Olli Heinonen, the deputy director-general of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, will hold two days of discussions about cooperation with the IAEA.
Heinonen was to hold talks with the deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Saeedi, and Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh.
The visit came a day after six world powers discussed Iran’s response to West proposals but couldn’t agree on a proper reaction to Tehran.
But it was not clear that Heinonen’s visit was directly related to the incentives being offered by the world powers to Iran to freeze its work on uranium enrichment.
A diplomat close to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Heinonen’s visit was likely to concentrate on clarifying outstanding questions the watchdog has about Iran’s nuclear program rather than the incentives offer.
Heinonen has made a series of visits to Iran as part of the agency’s longstanding efforts to make sure there is no military dimension to the program, the last on April 28.
“The two parties will assess the trend of cooperation between Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization and the IAEA,” a source said, adding that Heinonen would hold talks in Tehran on Thursday and Friday.
An Iranian atomic energy organization source told AFP that the two sides are not due to discuss the “alleged weaponization studies”.
Iran has dismissed as “baseless” West’s allegations that it had conducted weaponization studies and has provided a comprehensive response to the claim.
Aqazadeh has recently said that the alleged weaponization studies were not a matter for the UN watchdog.
“We are dealing with it through other channels. Measures have already been taken and we will follow them up if necessary and if appropriate,” Aqazadeh said on July 24.
On Wednesday, Britain and the United States said they had “no choice” but to seek new UN sanctions from the Security Council after Iran failed to give a “clear positive response” the previous day to their latest offer.
Iran wrote a letter to EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana – who represents West in nuclear talks with Iran – on Tuesday and said that there are some ambiguous points in the West’s package of proposals, which need to be removed before Tehran can state its final response.
Washington and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.
Despite the rules enshrined in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) entitling every member state, including Iran, to the right of uranium enrichment, Tehran is now under three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West’s illegitimate calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment.
Tehran has dismisses West’s demands as politically tainted and illogical, stressing that sanctions and pressures merely consolidate Iranians’ national resolve to continue the path.
Iran has also insisted that it would continue enriching uranium because it needs to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it is building in the southwestern town of Darkhoveyn as well as its first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.
The Islamic Republic stresses that it considers its nuclear case closed as it has come clean of IAEA’s questions and suspicions about its past nuclear activities.
Yet, the United States has remained at loggerheads with Iran over the independent and home-grown nature of Tehran’s nuclear technology, which gives the Islamic Republic the potential to turn into a world power and a role model for other third-world countries. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.
Washington’s push for additional UN penalties contradicts the report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head – one in November and the other one in February – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions on Iran seems to be completely irrational.
The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran’s cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran’s nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.
The UN nuclear watchdog has so far carried out at least 14 surprise inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites, but found nothing to support the allegations.
Observers believe that the shift of policy by the White House to send William Burns – the third highest-ranking diplomat in the US – to the talks with Iran happened after Bush’s attempt to rally international pressure against Iran lost steam due to the growing international vigilance.
US President George W. Bush finished a tour of the Middle East in winter to gain the consensus of his Arab allies to unite against Iran.
But hosting officials of the regional nations dismissed Bush’s allegations, describing Tehran as a good friend of their countries.
Many world nations have called the UN Security Council pressure against Iran unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports, stressing that Tehran’s case should be normalized and returned to the UN nuclear watchdog due to the Islamic Republic’s increased cooperation with the agency.