Tehran, 6 Jul – The United Nations’ atomic watchdog and Iran held “intense discussions” in Tehran on Monday about Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of the country’s nuclear programme, an Iranian official said.
The meeting was held as parallel talks were underway in Vienna between Iran and the P5+1 countries on the eve of a deadline for what would be a historic accord on the country’s suspect nuclear drive.
It comes just days after the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, visited Tehran to try to advance Iran’s negotiations with world powers over its nuclear programme.
The IAEA suspects Iran carried out research at least until 2003 on developing nuclear weapons.
It is seeking access to scientists who might have been involved, as well as documents and the sites at which any such activities took place.
Following his trip to Iran last Thursday, Amano said the talks touched on the increased role the IAEA would have after a deal with world powers to curb the country’s nuclear programme.
Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation said that on Monday the IAEA delegation held “intense negotiations” with officials from the Islamic republic.
“The five-member delegation are discussing details of the understanding reached in Yukiya Amano’s recent trip to Tehran”, said spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi.
“They visited officials from the Atomic Energy Organisation, Supreme Security Council and the agency’s permanent envoy to Iran”, he said, quoted by state media.
Foreign Ministers from the P5+1 countries – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – and Iran are in Vienna trying to strike a deal whereby Tehran would curb parts of its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
The crunch talks between Iran and world powers “could go either way”, US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Vienna on Sunday.
Last Tuesday was the official deadline to reach a long-term deal that would build on the preliminary agreement in Lausanne, but the seven countries have agreed to extend the deadline until 7 July to allow more time for negotiations.
Diplomats have said the real deadline is 9 July, the latest the deal can be presented to the US Congress to limit to 30 days a mandatory review period before Obama can begin suspending sanctions. After that, the review would last 60 days, with growing risks a deal could unravel.
US President Barack Obama warned Iran last week that there would be no nuclear deal if Tehran does not agree to “serious, rigorous” inspections of its facilities.
“The goal of the nuclear negotiations is not to rely on trust, but to set up a verifiable mechanism where we are cutting off the pathways for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon”, Obama said.
Iran’s main opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), last month published a 28-page report stating that Iran has been trying to keep its nuclear infrastructure intact and retain the capability to produce a nuclear weapon. It said Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had put red lines for international inspectors having access to Iranian military sites and nuclear scientists and any halt to nuclear Research and Development (R&D).
The NCRI, the group which first blew the whistle on Iran’s secret uranium enrichment and heavy-water sites in 2002, last week also warned that without “complete unrestricted access” to international inspectors to monitor Iranian military facilities, Iran could not be trusted to abide by the terms of the international agreement.
It published a partial list of Iranian nuclear sites that it had exposed and which Tehran had previously kept secret.
Based in part on wire reports