World powers want ‘serious dialogue’ with Iran


World powers said Thursday that mooted talks with Iran must be “serious” and urged Tehran to allow UN inspectors access to a military base thought to be central to its suspected nuclear weapons drive.
“We call on Iran to enter, without preconditions, into a sustained process of serious dialogue, which will produce concrete results,” said a statement on behalf of the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany, known as the P5+1. They added that their readiness to negotiate was “on the understanding that these talks will address the international community’s long-standing concerns and that there will be serious discussions on concrete confidence building measures.”
The statement was read out by China’s envoy to the UN atomic watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, at a closed-door regular board meeting at its Vienna headquarters. On Tuesday EU foreign policy representative Catherine Ashton said on behalf of the six powers that they were ready to hold talks with Iran. It remains to be agreed where and when the negotiations would be held.
The last round in Istanbul in January 2011 broke down, according to Western diplomats, over Tehran’s demand to discuss “preconditions” before concentrating on the nuclear dispute. Ashton said in a letter to Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili that the powers did not want to “repeat the experience of Istanbul” and that the dialogue “will have to focus” on the “key issue” of Iran’s nuclear programme. Iranian parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani warned on Wednesday that the talks would fail if they were used to “pressure” Tehran.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday that in the talks Washington “will demand that Iran live up to its international obligations — that it provide verifiable assurances it is not pursuing a nuclear weapon.” French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Wednesday he was “sceptical” about Iran’s readiness to talk about its nuclear activities, saying Tehran’s use of “double talk” meant sanctions pressure must be maintained.
His German counterpart Guido Westerwelle on Thursday said “the possible resumption of nuclear talks with Iran is an opportunity. It is up to Iran to make use of it and return to cooperation.” The possible resumption comes despite an apparent deadlock between the IAEA and Iran over the Islamic republic’s nuclear programme after two visits to Tehran in January and February.
During the two trips Iran again rejected a major November IAEA report outlining a range of suspicious activities “relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device” as based on false intelligence, agency chief Yukiya Amano said. Amano also said Iran also denied access to the Parchin military complex where the IAEA believes explosives testing for nuclear warhead research took place, making a last-minute offer to allow access to another site which the IAEA rejected.
“We are concerned that, despite efforts made so far, no agreement was reached, including on the access to relevant sites in Iran, requested by the agency,” Thursday’s P5+1 statement said. “In that context we urge Iran to fulfil its undertaking to grant access to Parchin.” Amano on Monday also appeared to allege that Iran was removing evidence at the base, saying “activities” spotted by satellite “makes us believe that going there sooner is better than later.” Iran says the IAEA already visited Parchin in 2005 and that it is under no obligation to allow access because the site is non-nuclear. The IAEA disputes this and wants to return to the site to inspect areas it did not look at before.