Is Iran stepping back from the brink?
According to a statement issued by the country’s permanent envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran plans to allow U.N. officials to visit the secretive Parchin complex, where the nuclear agency suspects research into nuclear weapons may have been carried out.
In the agency’s restricted report, a copy of which was acquired by The Diplomat, the IAEA warned:
“The Annex to the Director General’s November 2011 report provided a detailed analysis of the information available to the Agency indicating that Iran has carried out activities that are relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device. This information, which comes from a wide variety of independent sources, including from a number of Member States, from the Agency’s own efforts and from information provided by Iran itself, is assessed by the Agency to be, overall, credible.”
With talk of an Israeli military strike intensifying, Iran has indicated that it is willing to co-operate in a “gesture of goodwill.” However, the statement, issued by the country’s permanent envoy to the IAEA, notes that the Parchin visit will still require an agreement on the guidelines for the inspection. There was also no clear indication how much freedom IAEA inspectors will be given, and the statement tries to place the ball firmly in the international community’s court:
“All member states are therefore expected to support the process and to refrain from any measures which undermine the conducive environment desperately needed to pursue a successful conclusion,” the statement says, according to text released by the Fars news agency.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has already made its decision to work with the Agency in a professional manner to resolve outstanding allegations in order to prove the world public that its nuclear activities are exclusively for peaceful purposes.”
The news comes the same day as reports have emerged that the six key powers engaged in discussions with Iran over its nuclear program have agreed to resume talks. The Guardian reports that EU foreign policy chief, Lady Ashton has written to Iran’s nuclear envoy saying that the negotiations should restart as soon as possible, at a venue to be decided.
“Writing on behalf of a negotiating group comprising the U.S., UK, France, Russia, China and Germany, Ashton said: ‘Our overall goal remains a comprehensive negotiated, long-term solution which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program, while respecting Iran’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy consistent with the NPT [nuclear non-proliferation treaty].’”
The problem is that Iran has shown such “flexibility” before, only to eventually withdraw its cooperation, and critics – including those who see a narrowing window for a military strike – are bound to see this as yet another stalling tactic on the part of the regime.