US, EU urge Iran to ease world nuclear concerns
Vienna: The United States and Europe on Monday urged Iran to use upcoming talks with world powers to ease international worry that it may be aiming to develop nuclear arms, but Tehran said such concerns were based on "fake evidence" concocted to cause it political and economic harm.
The statements at a 189-nation meeting looking for ways to strengthen the Nonproliferation Treaty reflected the divide over the Islamic Republic's nuclear activities.
The divisions threaten the success of the talks with six world powers and a separate meeting between Iran and the UN nuclear agency.
Iran and the six come to the table in Baghdad on May 23 to build on admittedly meagre progress made last month in Istanbul when the parties agreed there may be enough common ground to try and focus on specifics in Iraq.
The United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany will try to secure an Iranian pledge that it will curb its production of higher-enriched uranium, which can be turned into fissile warhead material within months.
Before that, Iran's chief envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency meets May 13-14 with senior officials of the UN agency, which has long been trying to probe Tehran's atomic secrets.
IAEA officials say they will use that encounter to press for renewed access to the Parchin military site to look for signs of covert work on a nuclear weapons programme.
Tehran has denied that request as well as deflecting bids by the IAEA to interview scientists suspected of involvement in alleged covert research and development work into nuclear arms.
Both the United States and the European Union laid out Western expectations yesterday for the Baghdad meeting. They urged Tehran to comply with UN Security Council resolutions demanding an end to uranium enrichment and other activities that Iran says are for peaceful use but which can be turned toward weapons making.
"We remain concerned by Iran's persistent failure to comply with its nonproliferation obligations, including IAEA ... Obligations and UN Security Council resolutions," US chief delegate Robert A Wood said.
Beyond expecting Iran "to take urgent practical steps" at the Baghdad talks that will diminish mistrust in its nuclear aims, Wood said the onus was on Tehran "to cooperate fully with the verification efforts of the IAEA."
"We are concerned that Iran has not agreed to grant the IAEA access to all relevant sites, information, documents and persons necessary to resolve questions about its nuclear program, including concerns about its possible military dimensions," he said.