Friday, 2 November 2007

Iran winds up talks with IAEA

Washington calls for tougher sanctions as Congress says Bush has no authority for war with Iran

The final round of talks aimed at resolving questions related to Iran's nuclear energy program wound up in Tehran on Thursday.

The closed-door talks coincided with a meeting in Vienna between U.S. Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns and Mohammed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

There has been no official comment on the Tehran talks between Iran's nuclear representative, Javad Vaeedi and the energy agency's deputy director general, Oli Heinonen. Observers, however, say the mood of delegates to the four day meeting was upbeat. Earlier, Heinonen had described Iran's cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog as "good."

This article was first published by Ohmynews International

Vaeedi was also quoted as saying, "The Iranian delegation and the IAEA delegation have expressed satisfaction with the trend of the talks."

Speaking on Monday, Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltaniyeh, said these meetings are a clear indication of Iran's determination to remove any ambiguities about its nuclear program.

Soltaniyeh told PressTV, "We are on the right track to fulfill the joint understanding between Iran and the IAEA. I am very optimistic that the full report will reflect the progress we have made."

He called on the international community to refrain from making any gestures or statements that would undermine the process. "Allow this positive constructive environment be sustained," he said, "and hopefully all these issues will be resolved soon."

The full report on the recent meetings between the IAEA and Iranian officials will be released in mid-November. The report will be presented to the IAEA board of governors and the United Nations Security Council.

Meanwhile, in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, ElBaradei said his agency has been able to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear materials in Iran. "Iran has continued to provide the access and reporting needed to enable agency verification in this regard," he said.

ElBaradei said Iran has also provided addition information and access needed to resolve a number of long outstanding issues.

However, the United States continues to insist that it believes Iran is not fully complying with the atomic watchdog and has a clandestine nuclear weapons program.

Nicholas Burns said Washington would continue in its efforts to persuade the Security Council to impose a third set of sanctions against Tehran. Burns also called on the European Union to go forward with further sanctions of its own.

Burns left Vienna for London where he will hold talks with his counterparts from Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany. He will be urging them to back Washington's call for a third set of sanctions. Britain and France say they support the move if Tehran remains "defiant" – while Russia and China are opposed.

The Bush administrations aggressive stance towards Tehran suffered a further setback when 30 U.S. Senators wrote a letter warning the president that he will receive no support from Congress for a possible military strike against Iran.

The Senators, including Hillary Clinton and Joseph Biden told the president he had no authority to launch military action against Iran. Describing the U.S. administration's rhetoric as provocative, the letter cautioned against using the designation of Iran's Republican Guard Corp as a terrorist organization should not be used as a pretext for war.

In a related development, the United Nations Disarmament Commission earlier this week unanimously approved an Iranian-proposed resolution that called on nuclear powers to limit the use of nuclear weapons.

In an action that was not widely reported in the mainstream media, a majority of the commission's non-aligned members voted in favor of the proposal. However, the proposal was rejected by the major Western nuclear states. The resolution called for a reduction in nuclear arsenals and confidence building policies.

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