The head of the U.N. nuclear agency has arrived in Tehran on a key mission that could lead to the resumption of probes on whether Iran has secretly worked on a nuclear weapon.
International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano and his two aides landed early Monday morning in Iran but where quickly whisked away from the Tehran airport, accordi8ng to The Associated Press.
They will meet Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, as well as the foreign minister and other Iranian officials later in the day.
The visit is focused on getting Iran to agree to terms that will allow IAEA probes of suspect Iranian sites. Tehran denies having worked on atomic weapons.
Amano’s trip comes ahead of another round of nuclear talks between the six world powers and Iran on Wednesday in Baghdad.
Amano said Sunday that he was adopting a “constructive spirit” and positive attitude as he headed to Tehran.
“Nothing is certain but I stay positive and I go there with constructive spirit,” said Amano at Vienna airport before boarding his flight, according to AFP.
“There has been good progress during the recent rounds of discussions between Iran and IAEA. So I thought that now is the right time ... to visit Iran and have direct talks with high officials of Iran,” he added.
But he added: “This visit is very short, and I’m not an inspector.”
Iran hopes the visit will lead to an accord on how to resolve disputes over the IAEA monitoring nuclear activities and draw up “a new modality to answer (IAEA) questions and clear up ambiguities,” Salehi said.
Salehi was quoted Sunday as welcoming the visit as a “good omen,” saying it presented an opportunity for Iran to reset relations with the IAEA, which are regularly marked by controversy over Tehran’s alleged lack of cooperation.
Insisting its program is purely civilian, Iran says it fully cooperates with the agency and has accused the Vienna-based IAEA of being manipulated by Western intelligence services.
Amano has been accused by Iran of being “biased” and “unprofessional.”
The IAEA, which monitors most of Iran’s nuclear activities, has fueled for several years Western suspicions over a possible military dimension to Iran’s atomic program, a doubt magnified by Iran’s turbulent ties with the agency.
Amano’s one-day visit follows two days of “positive” talks between Iran and the IAEA last week in Vienna, reopening dialogue after two fruitless visits by IAEA experts to Tehran in January and February.
The visit also comes just two days ahead of talks in Baghdad between world powers and Iran over the latter’s nuclear ambitions, which marks the second round of talks revived in April in Istanbul after a 15-month impasse.
A reconciliation between Iran and the IAEA on new rules of cooperation and more transparency on Iranian nuclear activities could send a positive signal to the Baghdad meeting.
The five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany, or the so-called P5+1, have demanded from Iran concrete gestures to show its willingness to reach a negotiated solution to the nuclear issue.
Iran’s nuclear program has been condemned by six U.N. Security Council resolutions, including four with sanctions unilaterally later strengthened by the West.
The Islamic republic’s arch-foes, Israel and the United States have threatened to use a military option against Iranian nuclear installations if diplomacy fails.
The leaders of eight leading industrialized countries, the G8, called on Iran Saturday to engage in “detailed discussions” in Baghdad that could “lead towards a comprehensive negotiated solution which restores international confidence that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.”