Reuters: A team from the U.N. nuclear watchdog will visit Iran on July 11-13 to discuss how to resolve questions about Tehran’s disputed nuclear activities, an Iranian official was quoted as saying on Saturday. TEHRAN (Reuters) – A team from the U.N. nuclear watchdog will visit Iran on July 11-13 to discuss how to resolve questions about Tehran’s disputed nuclear activities, an Iranian official was quoted as saying on Saturday.
But Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), also indicated that Iranian cooperation would depend on major powers halting or refraining from further U.N. sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad separately said “threats and psychological warfare” would not make Iran stop its atomic work, state television reported, the latest defiant statement on the nuclear issue from the Iranian leadership.
Iran says it only aims to derive electricity from enriched uranium. Western countries believe Tehran is seeking a nuclear bomb as it hid sensitive research from the IAEA until 2003 and has stonewalled investigations since then.
“There should be an end to the interferences of the U.N. Security Council on this issue,” Soltanieh told the ISNA news agency in an interview.
“If the 5 plus 1 countries make a political decision to stop the Security Council’s actions against Iran, we will give the agency … answers to the remaining questions,” he said, referring to the five veto-wielding powers on the Security Council plus Germany.
A senior Middle Eastern diplomat said Iranian chief negotiator Ali Larijani made clear to IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei in agreeing the transparency plan on June 22 that Iran would back out if the Security Council imposed more sanctions.
“Any further Security Council action and the plan is off the table,” he said. “Iran agreed to draw up the plan but not to implement it. For that, they may demand the U.N. stop all sanctions. They will go one step at a time.”
The Vienna-based IAEA last Monday said Tehran had invited it to send the team after Larijani agreed a “plan of action” within two months for clearing up longstanding issues with ElBaradei.
“A team … will come to Tehran to study a working plan that will answer all the remaining issues in regard to Iran’s nuclear programme,” Soltanieh said in a separate ISNA report.
Tehran’s conciliatory gesture came as the United States, Britain, Russia, France, Germany and China began discussing a third, harsher batch of U.N. sanctions against Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment-related activities.
Iran has been hit with two sets of sanctions for defying calls to stop enrichment, a process which can be used to make fuel for power plants or provide material for bombs, and open up to IAEA inquiries under way since 2003.
A Western diplomat in Vienna earlier this week said Iran’s effort to address the lack of international trust in its nuclear agenda looked more like a delaying tactic than a genuine turnaround. Washington has also expressed scepticism.
But Russia has hinted at disagreement with a U.S. thrust for new sanctions, a step it could veto in the Security Council, by saying it will back them only once the IAEA has exhausted all possibilities to resolve questions about Iran’s activities.
On Friday, a senior European diplomat told Reuters world powers were debating the idea of offering Iran a pause in seeking further sanctions if Tehran stops expanding uranium enrichment as a way of nudging it into a full suspension. Iran has so far ruled out any kind of nuclear halt.
(Additional reporting by Mark Heinrich in Vienna)