Iranians criticize U.S. 'crimes' in Iraq while praising IAEA
The head of the U.N. nuclear agency said Monday after meeting with Iran's chief negotiator on nuclear issues that the atmosphere among Iranian officials was "positive" ahead of Wednesday's scheduled meeting in Baghdad with six world powers.
Iranian state-run media also described the talks with International Atomic Energy Agency director Yukiya Amano as promising, but cast the U.N. agency as a more credible partner in the negotiations than the United States because the IAEA had stayed out of the American pursuit of suspected weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2003.
"The IAEA's opposition to the U.S. false claim over Iraq helped the agency steer clear of Washington so that the U.N. agency's officials could not be considered as accomplice to the crimes committed by the U.S. statesmen in Iraq," Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency, or IRNA, reported from Amano's meeting with Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in Tehran.
The Iranian media posture suggested that if Iran is willing to make any concessions in its nuclear programs, such as reducing its uranium enrichment levels below what would be suitable for weapons production, that it would be done through the U.N. auspices in the talks in Baghdad, not in response to U.S. pressure.
The so-called 5-plus-1 talks bring Iran together with the five permanent U.N. Security Council members -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France -- and Germany. The United States has been lobbying for tighter controls on Iran's nuclear industries to prevent Tehran from developing and acquiring nuclear weapons. Iran insists that its programs are aimed at peaceful uses and that it has a right to develop nuclear energy.
"Iran considers IAEA's independence and promotion as a factor which would prevent violation of the member states' rights,” IRNA reported, drawing a contrast between the Vienna-based U.N. agency and what Iranian officials see as U.S. efforts to restrict its rights.
Jalili was quoted by the news agency as referring to Washington as "Hiroshima culprits" who continue to produce and stockpile nuclear weapons and as such cannot lead the global nonproliferation campaign.
Amano was quoted in news postings on the IAEA website as saying that his meeting with Jalili heralded a "good atmosphere" at the Baghdad gathering that is scheduled to begin Wednesday.
Amano's visit ahead of the Baghdad meeting was reportedly in hopes of securing Tehran's agreement to let IAEA inspection of its nuclear facilities resume after a four-year suspension.
--Carol J. Williams in Los Angeles
Photo: IAEA chief Yukiya Amano, left, talks with reporters after meeting Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, right, in Tehran on Monday. Credit: Adel Pazzyar / Associated Press / Islamic Republic News Agency