Jerusalem, May 16 – Iranian officials are demanding the international community lift harsh economic sanctions before Tehran will cooperate with international nuclear inspectors.
Tehran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili warned the withdrawal of sanctions against Iran would be the “focal point” in talks between Iran and world powers scheduled for next week in Bagdad.
Iran has refused to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency for more than four years, blocking attempts by IAEA inspectors to check whether Iran has secretly been developing nuclear weapons.
After two days of talks in Vienna this week with the IAEA both sides said there was progress, but Iran gave more signs that it is not going to allow IAEA inspectors into its secret nuclear development sites.
"The main purpose is to negotiate on a modality and framework to resolve outstanding issues and remove ambiguities," Iran delegate to the IAEA talks Ali Asqar Soltaniyeh told reporters after the meeting. He suggested that only after such a "framework" for future cooperation had been agreed to could Iran consider the IAEA request for access, Iran’s FARS news agency reported.
Iran insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, but has failed to comply with four United Nations Security Council resolutions demanding it halt its uranium enrichment program and open its nuclear sites to international inspectors. Iran and the IAEA will meet again next Monday.
The two-day meeting in Vienna is being closely watched as a mood-setter for May 23 talks scheduled to be held in Bagdad between Iran and six world powers - Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany and the United States. The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany are known as the P5+1.
Despite the desire for a compromise, “Iran has often managed to limit its diplomatic and economic isolation by sowing rifts among the six states spearheading international efforts to rein in Iran's nuclear program, leading to a watering-down of U.N. sanctions,” a Reuters report said.