Iran plays for time over its nuclear drive

Iran plays for time over its nuclear drive

Iran plays for time over its nuclear drive

UN’s nuclear chief Amano says a deal with Iran is expected to be inked soon. AP photo

Despite some remaining differences, a deal has been reached with Iran that will allow the U.N. nuclear agency to restart a long-stalled probe into suspicions that Tehran has secretly worked on developing nuclear arms, the U.N. nuclear chief said yesterday, one day ahead of key nuclear talks between Tehran and the P5+1 countries in Baghdad.

Yukiya Amano said upon returning from Tehran that he and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator had made a decision to reach an agreement on the U.N. agency investigating suspected weapons activities.

But contrary to the hopes of some diplomats before he left May 20, Amano failed to actually sign a deal, saying at the Vienna airport that this would happen “soon” because of remaining unspecified differences.

West seeks action

“A decision was made by me and Mr. Jalili to reach an agreement on the structured approach,” he said as he returned to Vienna from a visit to Iran, referring to Iran’s chief negotiator Saeed Jalili. “At this stage, I can say it will be signed quite soon, but I cannot say how soon it will be,” Amano said, describing the agreement as an “important development.”

Robert A. Wood, America’s chief delegate to the nuclear agency, said Washington appreciated Amano’s efforts but remained “concerned by the urgent obligation for Iran to take concrete steps to cooperate fully with the verification efforts of the IAEA, based on IAEA verification practices.” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also urged Iran to put professed good intentions into action.

Amano noted that Jalili had told him that existing differences “will not be the obstacle to reaching agreement.” Amano also said that he had discussed with Iranian authorities access to the Parchin military site, where the IAEA believes activity relevant to nuclear weapons development has taken place. Iran has for four years stonewalled IAEA requests for access to sites, especially the Parchin military complex outside Tehran, as well as nuclear scientists and documentation to verify intelligence reports about research and experiments pertinent to manufacturing nuclear explosives.

US imposes fresh sanctions

“This issue will be addressed as a part of the implementation of the structured approach document,” he said. A day before Amano’s announcement, the U.S. Senate approved new sanctions against Iran aimed at convincing the Islamic republic to suspend its uranium enrichment.

The bill allows President Barack Obama to impose sanctions on any country or company that enters into joint ventures with Iran to develop its oil or uranium resources, or provides technology or resources to help Iran with such development.

It also includes measures against anyone who provides goods that “materially contribute to Iran’s proliferation of weapons of mass destruction [WMD] program or its terrorism-related activities.”

Iran summons Baku envoy after ‘Gay Parade’ dispute

TEHRAN - The Associated Press

Iran has summoned neighboring Azerbaijan’s envoy and recalled its own ambassador from Baku for consultations over what it describes as the Azeri government’s “insults to the sanctities” of Islam.

Iranian clerics have denounced Azerbaijan for hosting the upcoming Eurovision song festival and for allegedly permitting gay rallies, which are banned in Iran. Baku, however, has never staged a gay pride parade. The move came after several dozen Azerbaijani protesters rallied outside the Iranian embassy last week, some holding posters mocking Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s late revolutionary leader. The official IRNA news agency said yesterday that a protest note was delivered to Azerbaijan’s Ambassador Javanshir Akhundov.

In recent months, Iran expressed concern over alleged Israeli intelligence activity in the Caucasian state. In return, Azerbaijan said it arrested dozens hired by Iran to carry out terrorist attacks against the U.S. and Israeli embassies as well as Western-linked groups and companies.