IAEA reaches out,sets stage for crucial talks with Iran next week

The UN nuclear watchdog sent its top brass to an Iranian embassy event in Vienna a few days ago,but the goodwill gesture may do little to win over the Islamic state to transparency about its nuclear activity at crunch talks in Tehran next week.

Written by Reuters | Vienna | Published:February 16, 2012 12:52 am

The UN nuclear watchdog sent its top brass to an Iranian embassy event in Vienna a few days ago,but the goodwill gesture may do little to win over the Islamic state to transparency about its nuclear activity at crunch talks in Tehran next week.

The attempt by the International Atomic Energy Agency to reach out,with the rare presence of IAEA chief Yukiya Amano and two deputies at a reception last Friday marking the 1979 Islamic revolution,was hailed as positive by Iranian state media.

Western diplomats doubt that such conciliatory language will translate into any major progress in meetings between the Vienna-based UN agency and Iran scheduled for February 20-21 in the Islamic state’s capital.

Iran has indicated readiness for the first time in more than three years to address IAEA concerns about possible military links to its nuclear work,but also dismissed the allegations as baseless.

Following an inconclusive first round of discussions last month,the outcome next week could determine is the stand-off over Iran’s uranium enrichment programme escalates further or offers scope to reduce tensions. “I haven’t heard of any movement or cause for optimism,” one Western envoy said.

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