Iran prepares for nuclear talks, chief negotiator to meet with UN chemical watchdog
Iranian negotiators are this week holding a series of meetings in Vienna laying the groundwork for the upcoming nuclear talks with world powers in Geneva, to run from November 7-8.
Deputy Foreign Minister and Tehran’s chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi will meet the head of the UN atomic watchdog, Yukiya Amano on Monday, Agence France-Presse reported.
On the same day, the International Atomic Energy Agency will hold separate talks with Iranian officials on allegations that prior to 2003, and possibly since, Tehran carried out nuclear weapons research, according to AFP.
On Wednesday and Thursday, a seven-member expert Iranian team will meet with counterparts from the P5+1, the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany, to prepare the groundwork for the Geneva talks.
All meetings will be held behind closed doors except the IAEA talks that will be followed by a news conference with the new Chief Inspector Tero Varjoranta.
Western powers believe that Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at acquiring atomic weapons but Tehran denies this and insists its program is for civilian “peaceful” purposes.
It has defied multiple UN Security Council resolutions and sanctions and has continued to expand its nuclear program over the years.
But since becoming president in August, moderate Hassan Rouhani, has raised hopes that the crisis can be resolved with the latest diplomatic rapprochement with the United States.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in September held a landmark meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry during the UN General Assembly. President Barack Obama and Rowhani also spoke in a historic phone call which was the first between the leaders of both nations since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Moreover, during the latest talks held in Geneva on October 15-16, Iran presented to the six powers a new proposal that Araqchi said could settle the dispute “within a year.”
In Iran’s parallel talks with the IAEA there has also been optimism, with the watchdog describing its first meeting with Iran's new Vienna envoy on September 27 as “very constructive.”
The Geneva talks have ended a sixth-month suspension in diplomacy, sparked by Iran’s refusal to curb uranium enrichment.
“We hope Iran and the agency can adopt a new approach, in a spirit of goodwill, and can get down to resolving the remaining ambiguities in a short period,” Araqchi told the ISNA news agency Friday, according to AFP.