Reuters: Iran and the U.N. atomic watchdog ended three days of “satisfactory” talks on Thursday aimed at clearing up suspicions about Iranian nuclear activity and will continue discussions next week, an Iranian official said. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran and the U.N. atomic watchdog ended three days of “satisfactory” talks on Thursday aimed at clearing up suspicions about Iranian nuclear activity and will continue discussions next week, an Iranian official said.
The talks were part of a plan Iran agreed to in August to explain past nuclear work it kept secret for 18 years, raising suspicions of an illicit bid for atom bombs.
Tehran, which stonewalled investigators from the International Atomic Energy Agency for years, is to provide answers in phases by the end of the year.
Iran’s deputy nuclear negotiator, Javad Vaeedi, said the talks were “satisfactory for the two sides” and would continue next week, the Mehr News Agency reported. It gave no further details.
IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei will report to the IAEA’s 35-nation board of governors in mid-November. If Iran has not answered sensitive questions by then, Western powers say they will move to have harsh U.N. sanctions adopted against Iran.
The West fears Iran is covertly trying to develop nuclear arms. Iran says it seeks only nuclear-generated electricity.
As part of the deal, an Iranian team met IAEA officials in late September to address questions about centrifuges used for uranium enrichment. The process can make fuel for nuclear power plants or, if Iran wanted, material for nuclear warheads.
The latest round of talks was held between Vaeedi and Olli Heinonen, IAEA deputy director in charge of non-proliferation safeguards. Discussions covered P-1 and P-2 centrifuges, diplomats said.
Iran uses a 1970s vintage of centrifuge, called P-1s, prone to breakdown if spun at high speed for long periods. It is researching an advanced P-2 model, which can refine uranium much faster, at sites off limits to IAEA inspectors.
Iran’s transparency deal with the IAEA has been criticized by the United States and allies for ignoring U.N. resolutions demanding Iran suspend enrichment.
The U.N. Security Council has imposed two sets of limited sanctions on Iran for its refusal to halt enrichment.
Big powers agreed to delay further U.N. sanctions at least until November to see if the IAEA-Iran plan yields results, and to await a report by European Union negotiator Javier Solana on talks meant to nudge Iran towards a suspension.
(Additional reporting by Mark Heinrich in Vienna)