Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency held "very productive" discussions this week about resolving a rift over the Middle Eastern nation's nuclear activities and will meet again in two weeks, the two sides said Tuesday in an unusual joint statement.
The declaration came after two days of meetings that started on Monday with a face-to-face talk between Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi and IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano at the U.N. nuclear watchdog's headquarters in Vienna. Iranian and IAEA technical experts then spent Monday and Tuesday pouring over an undisclosed Iranian proposal for resolving outstanding issues regarding his nation's nuclear program -- which Iran insists is peaceful but some nations fear is geared toward weapons development.
Tero Varjoranta, IAEA deputy director general in charge of nuclear inspections, on Tuesday told reporters gathered at his agency's headquarters that the two-day technical meeting was "very productive."
"Iran presented a new proposal on practical measures as a constructive contribution to strengthen cooperation and dialogue with a view to future resolution of all outstanding issues," Varjoranta said, reading the joint statement.
Iran and the U.N. atomic watchdog decided after their "substantive discussions" that they will convene another meeting in Tehran on Nov. 11, in order "to take this cooperation forward," Varjoranta said.
Iranian Ambassador Reza Najafi, standing next to Varjoranta, spoke optimistically about a new resolution to the nuclear dispute that he said his country is offering.
"I believe that, with the submission of these new proposals by Iran, we have been able to open a new chapter of cooperation," he said, according to Reuters.
Iran's meetings with the U.N. body are separate and distinct from those it also is holding with the so-called "P-5+1" -- United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany. Technical experts from the seven nations are slated to meet on Wednesday and Thursday in Vienna in preparation for a Nov. 7-8 Geneva summit between senior diplomats from the countries.
In the United States, some members of Congress are pushing for the passage of Senate legislation that would expand economic sanctions against Iran. President Obama's administration has pled with Senate aides to delay any move to expand sanctions as talks continue with the Middle Eastern nation.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday night said it "would be the height of irresponsibility" to not continue the diplomatic negotiations with Iran, according to Bloomberg.
"We will not succumb to fear tactics" against continuing the talks, Kerry said at the nonpartisan U.S. Institute of Peace. Kerry didn’t elaborate on his comments. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, though, has been critical of the Obama administration’s desire to engage as it has been with Iran.
Obama and Netanyahu talked over the phone on Monday about Iran and other issues, Reuters reported separately.
"The two leaders agreed to continue their close coordination on a range of security issues," the White House said.
This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.