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.
What We're Following See More »
"Even as he acknowledged the importance of an open internet, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Wednesday set his telecom agency on a course to scrap the tough, broad net neutrality protections imposed by the Obama administration. During a major speech in Washington, D.C., Pai outlined the need for a total revision of existing federal rules that seek to prevent companies like AT&T, Charter, Comcast and Verizon from blocking or slowing down web content, including the movie or music offerings from their competitors." Separately, Pai told Reason's Nick Gillespie that the Clinton Administration "basically got it right when it came to digital infrastructure. We were not living in a digital dystopia in the years leading up to 2015."
The White House on Wednesday laid out its plan for tax reform, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying it would be "the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country." The tax code would be broken down into just three tax brackets, with the highest personal income tax rate cut from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. The plan would also slash the tax rate on corporations and small businesses from 35 percent to 15 percent. "The White House plan is a set of principles with few details, but it’s designed to be the starting point of a major push to urge Congress to pass a comprehensive tax reform package this year," said National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement today established the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE), as called for in a presidential executive order from January. The new office's website states that its staff "will be guided by a singular, straightforward mission—to ensure victims and their families have access to releasable information about a perpetrator and to offer assistance explaining the immigration removal process."