A team of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has arrived in Tehran on Sunday to start a new round of nuclear engagement with Iran which could lead to talks involving the six global powers.
Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was optimistic about the outcome of the visit by the IAEA team, led by Deputy Director General Herman Nackaerts and the agency's number two Rafael Grossi.
During his interaction with the media in Addis Ababa on Saturday, Mr. Salehi also spoke about the prospects of progress in a possible big-ticket dialogue between Iran and the six global powers — United States, Russia, Britain, France, China and Germany. “I think the P5+1 meeting will be successful because the other party is also interested in finding a solution,” he observed. The Iranian Foreign Minister pointed out that Saeed Jalili, Iran's top negotiator on the nuclear issue, will write about the date and venue of these talks in a letter addressed to Catherine Ashton, EU foreign policy chief. On January 8, Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had said Iran and the global powers have agreed in principle to hold talks in Turkey.
Ali Akbar Velayati, a former Foreign Minister, a top adviser of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader, also welcomed the delegation. However, he added the caveat that Iran would not forego its “nuclear rights”— usually a seasoned expression of assertion by Tehran that it would not stop uranium enrichment, as had been demanded by the U.N. Security Council members through a string of resolutions.
“We have always been open with regards to our nuclear issues and the IAEA team coming to Iran can make the necessary inspections,” said Mr. Velayati.
He added: “We will however not withdraw from our nuclear rights as we have constantly acted within international regulations and in line with the laws of the non-proliferation treaty,” ISNA reported.
Analysts say the visit by the IAEA team was more in the nature of a preparatory dialogue for a full-fledged round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 countries. Nevertheless, in the public domain, the inspectors were combative in saying they would ask questions of Iran about the possible military dimension of its nuclear programme.
Iranians, on their part, sought to focus on the covert war that had been unleashed by their foes against their country, which had recently spiked with the horrific killing of Ahmadi-Roshan, a young Iranian nuclear scientist.
Iran's state-run Press TV is reporting that several Iranian students confronted the U.N. team at Tehran's Imam Khomeini airport, criticising IAEA's perceived anti-Iran policies. Many of these students held aloft pictures of Iranian nuclear scientists, which they alleged had been assassinated by proxies traced to Israel and the United States. The IAEA has borne a fair brunt of the public outrage that has been caused by the assassination of the Ahmadi-Roshan, as Iran has publicly accused the organisation of playing a role in the killing. Iran's deputy U.N. Ambassador Eshagh Al Habib has earlier this month told the Security Council that the gifted nuclear scientist had met IAEA inspectors, “a fact that indicates that these U.N. agencies may have played a role in leaking information on Iran's nuclear facilities and scientist”.