Iran to cooperate with nuclear watchdog, says Solana

Speaking after high-level talks in Geneva, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Iran would cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency on inspections of a new facility ahead of a second round of talks in October.


European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said on Thursday Iran had said it planned to cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA on inspections of a new enrichment facility.

The announcement came at a press conference in Geneva after high-level talks between Iran and six world powers on Islamic republic's controversial atomic programme.

While Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili qualified the talks as 'good' he also said his country would never forego its "absolute" rights on its nuclear programme. The delegations also agreed on a second round of talks, to be held before the end of October, Iranian state TV reported.

The first part of the meeting between Iran's nuclear negotiator and officials from the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany lasted three hours, AFP reported, citing a diplomat.

Senior officials from the six powers were expected to push Jalili to accept a “freeze for freeze” plan in order to prevent any militarisation of Iran’s nuclear programme.

Doubts remained, however, over the Iranian negotiator’s willingness to talk about the second enrichment facility at Qom, which the United States, Britain and France revealed last week.

Maurin Picard, a FRANCE 24 correspondent in Geneva, said the talks ended on an unexpected positive tone: “The next meeting, probably again in Geneva, will focus on nuclear issues and nothing else,” he said.

Iran has always claimed its nuclear programme is peaceful, defying five United Nations Security Council resolutions that demand it suspend all sensitive nuclear activities.

But Tehran’s repeated attempts to dissimulate the scale of its enrichment facilities have led to widespread doubts about the ultimate purpose of Iran’s nuclear programme. Iran is allegedly operating thousands of centrifuges in its enriching facilities in Natanz and Qom.

Scepticism remains

While the Geneva gathering inspired hope for cooperation with Iran, Western countries also ended the meeting in a note of caution. A French official insisted that Tehran must prove it is changing the way it runs its nuclear programme, including giving access to its second enrichment site within two weeks, to allay international concerns.

"Time is pressing. There must be proof of a deep evolution in the management of Iran's nuclear programme," Jacques Audibert told reporters. "For instance it must allow access to the second site, Qom, in the next two weeks," he said after Iran held talks on the programme with six world powers.

The United States also warned of sanctions if Iran used the talks to delay nuclear compliance. President Barack Obama will comment on the Geneva talks 3:05 p.m. EDT (1905 GMT), White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Thursday.

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