MOSCOW: World powers will meet Iranian top representatives to discuss the Islamic state’s disputed nuclear programme in Istanbul at the end of January, a Russian official said on Thursday.
The so-called “P5+1” nations — Iran and the five permanent UN Security Council members along with Germany — had not all met since a June meeting in Moscow.
But an unnamed Russian source told the state RIA Novosti agency that the next meeting has been provisionally scheduled for the end of the month in Istanbul — host of the first such talks in April 2012. The source did not name a specific date or say when one might be announced.
Meanwhile, the UN nuclear chief said he was not hopeful of much progress in obtaining access to facilities the West believes Iran is using as part of an atomic weapons programme.
Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said “the outlook is uncertain, as to whether we can reach an agreement on Jan.16,” when his officers meet their Iranian counterparts.
The comment came a few days after Iran said it would not agree to any inspections beyond those of declared nuclear sites required by the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
“Negotiations with Iran are very difficult,” Amano told a press conference in Tokyo.
“Will we take a linear path toward an agreement? I am not necessarily optimistic. The outlook is not necessarily bright.”
After a visit to Tehran last month, IAEA chief inspector Herman Nackaerts said he was confident an agreement could be finalised at next Wednesday’s talks and that access to Parchin would be “part of” it. However, Amano noted, that despite “measured progress” in the December talks, the two parties fell short an agreement.
“The IAEA hopes to resolve Iran’s nuclear problem through dialogue, through diplomatic means,” Amano said. “However, we cannot say anything about the outlook for certain, if you ask me whether we are optimistic about it.”
Three prior “P5+1” meetings have been held at the most senior level envisioned for the Istanbul session. None has produced a compromise that sees the powers accept Iran’s right to enrich uranium in exchange for its provision of access to closed nuclear facilities and promise not to make higher-grade material.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast had hinted that access might be granted to Parchin, but only once a “comprehensive agreement” with the watchdog has been reached.