Iran and six world powers are scheduled to resume nuclear talks by Nov. 24, officials said Sunday. The announcement, made two weeks before United Nations inspectors were to visit the Parchin military site to investigate suspicions that it may be the site of a nuclear weapons research program, appeared to break a stalemate between the rival sides.
A United Nations team had been expected to visit the site in late September or early October. Iran had insisted that inspectors make a visit there before it submitted to negotiations.
As part of the renewed negotiations, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, has “increased her engagement with key Iranian and IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) authorities, in particular with the International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano,” Ashton said in a statement.
“The Iranian leadership has also signaled its readiness to engage on a number of outstanding issues concerning the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program, as it declared in February,” she said.
On Sunday, the U.S. State Department said Iran had agreed to accept visits to Parchin and other Iranian sites by the IAEA.
“We’re happy to see Iran making good on its commitment,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, adding, “We know this is an important issue to the IAEA.”
Speaking at a news conference in Geneva, Toner said he could not say definitively when Parchin would be visited, but said “We anticipate” it would happen before November.
The United States and the European Union imposed additional sanctions on Iran in June that target its oil and banking sectors. The new measures target Iran’s defense industry, aerospace industry and nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
On Monday, the president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Abdullah al-Badri, confirmed Iran had agreed to curtail the number of its crude exports by about 0.6 million barrels a day.
A higher quota had been proposed by Saudi Arabia but the producers voted to only reduce the total production, not the number of barrels, in a bid to maintain higher prices, Badri said.