Vienna: UN efforts to investigate suspicions that Iran has worked on nuclear arms appeared to gain traction on Tuesday, with both sides coming out of talks speaking of progress after nearly two years of deadlock and agreeing to meet again November 11 in Tehran.
Negotiators for Iran and the UN`s International Atomic Energy Agency refused to go into details. But their expressions of optimism and agreement not only to meet again but also to do that in Tehran all pointed toward forward movement.
Their decision to issue a joint statement, instead of their usual practice of speaking to reporters separately, also was seen as a sign of progress.
Read by Tero Varjoranta, head of the IAEA team, the statement spoke of a "substantive discussion" and "cooperation" in the two-day talks ending today.
Comments from him and Iranian chief negotiator Reza Najafi, speaking in their own capacity, were even more bullish. Najafi spoke of a "new chapter of cooperation," with the IAEA, while Varjoranta said he expected to "complete our work as quickly as possible."
It was the second time this month that talks focused on international concerns over Iran`s nuclear ambitions ended positively and in line with the stated determination of top officials within Iran`s new government to work on reducing such fears.
Iran also is seeking relief from crippling economic sanctions in return for concessions on its nuclear program. Next week, a new round of talks about Iran`s nuclear program is scheduled in Geneva by Iran and six world powers.
Both sides described their last round of these talks in October as positive, with Tehran ready to discuss some curbs on programs that can create both atomic energy and the fissile core of nuclear arms.
While the Vienna and Geneva talks are formally separate, they are linked by concerns over Iran`s nuclear aspirations, and progress in one may result in advances in the other. Tehran denies either wanting or working on atomic arms.
The Vienna talks have been deadlocked over agency experts seeking an open-ended investigation in Iran, and its government insisting that a document be prepared that outlines the limits on what can be inspected, who can be questioned, and other constraints.
Expectations of progress were raised even before Monday`s opening Vienna round after Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi met with IAEA chief Yukiya Amano and promised "new approaches" meant to end the impasse.