US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif have begun crunch talks this weekend in a bid to forge a nuclear deal.
The negotiations between Kerry and the Iranian Foreign Minister are a key part of ongoing discussions to put a nuclear bomb beyond Tehran’s reach.
Asked by a journalist whether they were on course to reach agreement by the looming deadline of June 30, Zarif smiled and said: “We will try.” Kerry did not respond.
But as talks continued in Geneva, senior Iranian nuclear negotiator Abbas Araghchi told state television it would be “out of the question” for UN inspectors to interview Iranian scientists and tour military sites as part of a final nuclear accord between Tehran and the P5+1.
The discussions follow news that work on a key element — an assessment of allegations that Tehran has worked on atomic arms — has stalled.
In a report released on Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it had made progress but no breakthrough in an inquiry into whether Iran had researched an atom bomb. The nuclear watchdog claimed Iran had “yet to propose any new practical measures” to move the investigation forward.
It added that more co-operation was needed from Tehran, including providing inspectors with access to the Parchin military base, where Western officials suspect scientists have conducted nuclear tests. Without it, the IAEA said it “could not conclude that all nuclear material in Iran was for peaceful activities”.
The IAEA report, issued to the agency’s 35-nation board and the UN Security Council, said concernsremained over “the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear-related activities involving military organizations”, including those related to the “development of a nuclear payload for missiles”.
The IAEA is investigating 12 activities that point to the clerical regime’s attempts to develop nuclear weapons. Late last year, respected Brussels-based NGO In Search of Justice claimed that the results of a review into the 12 disputed activities showed that civilian and military wings of Iran’s nuclear program were working hand-in-hand to develop a bomb.
According to insider information revealed by Iranian opposition movement the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) on May 28, nuclear scientists from Iran and fellow rogue stateNorth Korea are now working together.
A delegation from North Korea, featuring experts in nuclear warhead design, is said to have spent a week in Iran at the end of April, with a second group of nine experts from Pyongyang set to return to the country in June.
In February this year, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)claimedthat a secret Iranian military base called ‘Lavizan-3’ had been used to enrich uranium for years, using advanced centrifuges.
The NCRI, relying on information compiled by PMOI/MEK, has previously exposed some of the most important dimensions of the Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons program.
They include the Natanz uranium enrichment and Arak heavy water facilities, the
Kalay-e Electric centrifuge assembly and testing plant, the Lashkar-Abad laser enrichment plant, and the Defensive Innovation and Research Organization, said to co–ordinate the Iranian military’s nuclear program.
Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, has previously rejected IAEA inspections of Iranian military sites and interviews with nuclear scientists.
But in an online conference on Thursday,NCRI spokesman Shahin Gobadi said “intrusive inspections at any time and place, including at all military and non-military sites, and “unfettered, unconditional access to the regime’s nuclear specialists” must be part of anynuclear agreement with Tehran.
Gobadi added: “Otherwise any claim regarding the closure of the pathways to Tehran’s attainment of nuclear weapons is a delusion at best.”