Iran promised on Monday to increase its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog body.
Ali Akbar Salehi, the new head of the Islamic Republic’s Atomic Energy Organization, made the pledge at the IAEA’s annual meeting in Vienna, Reuters reported.
“I have come here with a message of my newly elected president to further enhance and expand our ongoing cooperation with the agency,” Salehi said. He added that he intended to “put an end to the so-called Iranian nuclear file.”
Salehi previously served as Iran’s minister of foreign affairs.
Ten rounds of talks have been held between Iran and the IAEA in the past two years, but to this date, they have not managed to resolve disagreements over Tehran’s nuclear program. The two sides last met in Vienna in May.
Salehi’s remarks follow similar statements by Reza Najafi, the new Iranian envoy to the IAEA. Last Thursday, Najafi said in Vienna that “Iran is ready to engage and remove any ambiguity” about its disputed nuclear program. However, he stressed, Iran would never give up its “inalienable right to develop a nuclear program,” the official IRNA news agency reported.
Since President Hasan Rouhani took office in August, Iran has shown a desire to pursue better relations with the West.
Rouhani appears to be using his upcoming visit to the UN General Assembly as an opportunity to resume nuclear talks with world powers. US President Barack Obama may meet later this month with Rouhani on the sidelines of the assembly.
The possibility of the meeting was reported Sunday night by Israel’s Channel 10 news, as well as by various international news sources including Britain’s Guardian newspaper. There was no official confirmation of the reports.
Britain has confirmed that its foreign secretary, William Hague, will meet at the UN next week with his new Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif. Britain severed ties with Iran in 2011.
The West suspects Iran’s nuclear program has military dimensions. Iran denies the charge and says its program is for peaceful applications like power generation and cancer treatment. The US and its allies demand Iran halt all enrichment, a demand Tehran rejects.