A day after US president Barack Obama signed a bill barring Iran’s UN envoy-designate from entering the country , the Islamic Republic’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said that a dispute with world powers over the Arak heavy water reactor has been “virtually resolved.”
“Iran has made a proposal to the P5+1 [group of world powers] to make certain changes in Arak and they have accepted. This question is virtually resolved,” Salehi said.
Tehran has been engaged in negotiations with six world powers aimed at clinching a comprehensive agreement on its nuclear drive .
A deal may involve the Islamic republic slashing its number of centrifuges, changing the design of a new reactor at Arak and giving UN inspectors more oversight.
The bill that Obama signed into law Friday passed both houses of Congress over envoy-designate Hamid Abutalebi’s links to the students who seized the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held American diplomats hostage for 444 days.
In a sign of thaw in the Tehran stance a senior Iranian military official urged the foreign ministry to name a new envoy to the UN.
The semi-official Fars news agency also quoted General Mohammad Bagherzadeh as saying that Abutalebi should remain close to his mother because the family lost two sons during the 1980-88 war with Iraq.
The Arak reactor, located 240km southwest of Tehran, could provide Iran with plutonium capable of being used to make a nuclear bomb.
Iran insists the 40 megawatts reactor, whose construction is monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency, is for peaceful medical research activity only.
It and the world powers — Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany — are to resume technical talks next month in New York ahead of further negotiations on a lasting nuclear deal, a senior Iranian official said Saturday.
The talks would take place from May 5 to 9, deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi told the state broadcaster Irib.
In November, Iran clinched a deal with the world powers under which it froze some nuclear activities in return for some minor relief from crippling Western sanctions.