Expert: With Rouhani, standoff over Iran's nuclear program may reach resolution

Azerbaijan, Baku, Sept. 16 / Trend, S. Isayev

The standoff over Iran's nuclear program may reach a resolution, at least for the short and intermediate terms, U.S professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Southern California (U.S) Mohammad Sahimi told Trend.

He was commenting on how the talks over Iran's nuclear program will continue, now under new president of Iran Hassan Rouhani.

"Rouhani was Iran's top nuclear negotiator from 2003-2005 and has always worked in the security domain. He also has the trust of the Supreme Leader," Sahimi said, adding that he's optimistic about possible resolution of Iran's nuclear issue.

The U.S. and their allies suspect Iran of developing a nuclear weapon - something that Iran denies, saying it uses nuclear energy for medical purposes and that its nuclear program is of purely peaceful nature.

Despite the rules enshrined in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) entitling every member state, including Iran, to the right of uranium enrichment, Tehran is now under several rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West's calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment.

Iran and UN's IAEA agency are scheduled to hold nuclear negotiations this month on Sept. 26 in Vienna. Ten rounds of talks since early 2012 have failed to make progress.

The IAEA, whose mission is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, has been trying to negotiate a so-called structured approach with Iran giving the inspectors access to sites, officials and documents for their long-stalled inquiry.

World powers are monitoring the IAEA-Iran talks for any signs as to whether Tehran, facing intensifying sanctions pressure, may be prepared to finally start tackling mounting international concerns about its nuclear activity.

The IAEA-Iran discussions are separate from, but still closely associated with, broader negotiations between Tehran and six world powers aimed at an overall political solution to the dispute over Iran's nuclear program.

International hopes for a resolution of the nuclear dispute were boosted by the election of Hassan Rohani because he has promised a more conciliatory approach to foreign relations than incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Prior to the Sept. 26 meeting announcement, Iranian media outlets reported that Iran's president Hassan Rouhani has appointed country's Foreign Ministry to handle the nuclear negotiations.

"Iran's new representative to the IAEA has pledged cooperation with the Agency until all the outstanding issues are resolved," Sahimi underscored.

After Ali Asghar Soltanieh left his post as Iran's representative to IAEA, his place was taken by Reza Najafi.

Sahimi went on to say that this new appointment may result in better relations between Iran and the IAEA and the resolution of the Parchin site issue.

IAEA has long been trying to get access to Iran's Parchin military complex, where Iran has allegedly been doing testing of nuclear materials. Iran has dismissed reports about nuclear activities at its Parchin military site. The IAEA inspectors have so far visited the site two times.

Mohammad Sahimi further spoke of Iran's new Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who, as he believes would be able to move Iran forward in the nuclear talks with the Western states.

"The new Foreign Minister is a highly skilled and experienced diplomat, who is also respected by the Western diplomats. He is also a realistic and moderate. He has also appointed experienced diplomats to various important posts. Thus, the represents a new chapter in Iran's diplomatic approach to the outside world," Sahimi said.

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