Iran-IAEA Technical Talks Underway
EghtesadOnline: Iran is ready to conclude nuclear talks based on the latest drafts exchanged between the engaged parties, but would not back down from its red lines, the diplomat said.
The course of technical negotiations between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency is still being pursued as per agreements reached in March, a senior Iranian diplomat said.
“We hope that the agency will be committed to the technical process and try its best to avoid being influenced under political pressure,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani said in a regular press briefing on Monday, ISNA reported.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi traveled to Tehran in March to discuss ambiguities over Iran’s nuclear activities.
As a result of the meetings, the two sides agreed on a joint agenda for measures to facilitate bilateral cooperation.
“Based on that agreement, technical delegations were exchanged and discussions were held,” Kanaani said, adding that that the negotiations are still underway.
The agency in February reported that it had detected uranium enriched to nearly 84% at Iran’s underground Fordow nuclear site, after it discovered an unannounced change to the interconnections between the two cascades, or clusters, of centrifuges at the facility.
Iran dismissed reports about changes in the interconnections, saying it was a “mistake” by the inspector.
It also denied any enrichment beyond the declared 60% purity, explaining that unintended fluctuations in enrichment levels may occur during the process and are normal, but it is the stocks of end product that should be assessed.
An IAEA delegation traveled to Tehran to hold discussions with Iranian officials, who later invited the agency’s director general to visit and pursue the talks.
Tehran and the agency are also at odds over traces of uranium that the IAEA claims have been found at three old undeclared sites in the country.
Iran denies the claims, saying it is based on fabricated information. It has, however, provided answers to the agency that the director general dismissed as uncredible in June, paving the way for the passing of two resolutions against the Islamic Republic by the Board of Governors.
The issue has been among the stumbling blocks on the way of negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
The deal had curbed Iran’s nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief, but Tehran began to row back on its commitments when the US reimposed tough sanctions after its unilateral withdrawal in 2018.
Talks began in April 2021 to work out how both sides could resume compliance, but have been stalled over final differences, including the outstanding safeguards issues with the IAEA.
Kanaani said Iran has never quit the negotiating table and is ready to conclude the talks in the shortest possible time based on the latest drafts exchanged between the engaged parties.
He stressed, however, that the Islamic Republic would not back down from its red lines and national interests.
“We insist that all sides must adhere to their commitments … within this framework, if the other side shows readiness, conditions are prepared for a quick and early return to the negotiating table for a conclusion,” he said.
Kanaani said the Iranian government is expanding its ties, especially with regional and neighboring countries, independent from the result of nuclear negotiations.
“In foreign relations, we don’t restrict ourselves to a certain region or bloc and work on upgrading ties with different countries,” he said.
Along this line, it reached a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia last month, with which it had severed diplomatic relations in 2016.
The two sides are currently conducting the procedures of reopening their embassies and consular offices, as well as implementing two previous economic and security agreements.
“Improving economic and trade relations is our priority, given the two countries’ potential,” Kanaani said, hoping that delegations would soon be exchanged between the two sides with the completion of executive steps.
Meanwhile, the Saudi King and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi have invited each other for visits.
Asked if the Iran-Saudi reconciliation would lead to resumption of ties with certain North African countries, he reminded that Iran has not taken the initiative in cutting relations and deems this move unconstructive.
The present government, he explained, seeks to have constructive relations based on mutual respect with all Arab, Islamic and regional countries.
“Along this line, we welcome positive steps by any country and would respond with even greater good faith,” he said.