Six of the world's most influential countries have called on Iran to restart talks on its disputed nuclear program with an open mind and without preconditions, as fears of a nuclear bomb mount.
Six world powers on Thursday called on Iran to open a suspicious military site to international inspectors and to ensure that upcoming talks on its nuclear program are meaningful.
"We call on Iran to enter, without pre-conditions, into a sustained process of serious dialogue, which will produce concrete results," said a joint statement from the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany, known as the P5+1. Of the six, only Germany does not have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
Reading out the statement at a closed-door meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), China's envoy to the UN nuclear watchdog added that their willingness to sit at the table with Iran was based "on the understanding that these talks will address the international community's long-standing concerns and that there will be serious discussions on concrete confidence building measures."
Access to Parchin site
Iran has greatly accelerated its enrichment of uranium in recent months, over which the six nations expressed "regret." Many Western powers suspect Iran's nuclear program is meant to develop nuclear weapons, but Iran says it is for peaceful energy generation and medical research.
The statement also urged the Islamic Republic to open up its Parchin military site to IAEA monitors. The site is not officially a nuclear facility, meaning Iran is not obliged to allow international inspectors access. However Western analysts have surmised that part of the site was used for nuclear warhead simulations.
Tehran denied access to the IAEA during a visit earlier this year, and satellite images have led to suspicions that the government is trying to clean the site up to remove traces of nuclear-related research.
The last round of talks between Iran and the P5+1, which took place in Istanbul in January 2011, broke down before any consensus was reached. Western diplomats say the talks failed because Tehran insisted on discussing "preconditions" before addressing the nuclear issue.
International attention on Iran's nuclear program has intensified in recent months, with the Israeli government reportedly considering a military strike on the nuclear facilities. The United States and the European Union have also ratcheted up sanctions to pressure the regime to abandon its uranium enrichment.
acb/pfd (AFP, Reuters, dpa)