February 20th, 2012
03:31 AM ET

U.N. nuclear watchdog agency in Iran for more talks

Officials with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency begin a second round of talks Monday with Iranian officials over the country's nuclear program, a day after Tehran cut off crude exports to British and French companies in retaliation for a new round of sanctions imposed on the regime.

The two days of talks come amid heightened tensions in the region, with Israel making clear it is pondering an attack on Tehran's nuclear infrastructure, while Iran warned it could cut off the narrow strait through which oil tankers sail in and out of the gulf.

The scheduled talks between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iranian officials are billed as an opportunity for the watchdog agency to clarify the "possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program," the group said.

Iran says it is producing enriched uranium to fuel civilian power plants and has refused international demands to halt its production.

But the IAEA reported in November that it had information to suggest Iran had carried out some weapons-related research.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it is up to Iran to disprove the allegation.

"The Agency is committed to intensifying dialogue. It remains essential to make progress on substantive issues," IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said in statement following the first round of talks in January.

The talks in Tehran follow an announcement Sunday by Iran's oil ministry that it was halting crude exports to French and British companies, an order that followed a threat that Iran would cut oil exports to some European Union countries in retaliation for sanctions put in place last month by the EU and the United States.

"Iran has no difficulty in selling and exporting its crude oil. ... We have our own customers and have designated alternatives for our oil sales. We shall sell to new customers, who will replace French and UK companies," ministry spokesman Ali Reza Nikzad-Rahbar said in a statement.

The sanctions put in place last month are meant to force Iran to provide more information on its nuclear program by shutting off its sale of crude oil, which generates half of Iran's revenue.

Iran exports 2.2 million barrels of oil a day, 18% of which is bound for European markets, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The world consumes about 89 million barrels of oil per day.

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soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©™

    Not much will come of this. The United Nations offers wonderful opportunities for travel, entertainment, and greeting new faces by people who dress well and do very little..

    February 20, 2012 at 4:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Medium Tedium

      lol....

      February 20, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. AMERICA 1st

    No wonder nyc has so many foreign idiots!

    February 20, 2012 at 4:37 am | Report abuse |
  3. revnowwhilewecan

    Oh Geez! What are we gonna do! Iran is the Boogeyman!!. Be aware of false flags meant to insight another illegal war people. This is an election year after all. Spread the word. We don't want and won't be tricked into another war. Be vigilant. Enough is Enough!! WE KNOW WHAT YOU"RE UP TO!! KNOCK IT OFF!

    February 20, 2012 at 6:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Thinker23

      "Illegal" means "In vilation of the law". There is no law forbidding a country to fight back if attacked. No one is willing to attack PEACEFUL Iran. To make it even more clear: force will be used against Iran only as a last resort in case there will be no other way to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

      February 20, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  4. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    You are not TORI

    February 20, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  5. impondering

    In my opinion, all this talk of a nuclear threat is a cover to get eyes on the ground in Iran to monitor the developments in the power struggle between Ahmadinejad and Khamenei. Especially since the latest Intelligence assessment from Clapper made it clear there are three benchmarks being monitored by US intelligence on the nuclear front that Iran has made no efforts to cross. Ahmadinejad is the biggest threat to the Supreme Leader right now (or potentially ever) with his public actions in the spring of last year relating to the Head of the Ministry of Intelligence, Heydar Moslehi. He basically threw down the gauntlet to Khamenei by insisting Moslehi resign or be fired. Khamenei stepped up to the plate by refusing to accept Moslehi's resignation (i.e. reinstating him). The clerics are worried about Ahmadinejad's use of his son's wife's father, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, as a bootstrap to religious legitimacy for a 2013 presidential ticket with Mashaei and Ahmadinejad since Ahmadinejad can't run in 2013 as the top billed Presidential candidate. Having backed Ahmadinejad over Rafsanjani in 2005 and over Mousavi in 2009, Khamenei will look fallible and take a credibility hit in the Assembly of Experts if he takes on Ahmadinejad directly. He was hoping to use the embezzlement scandal to disgrace Mashaei (and by association Ahmadinejad) but Ahmadinejad has the skinny on Khamenei's children's involvement in that fiasco. So now you have Khamenei using the Majlis' ability to summons Ahmadinejad to answer questions on the economy, etc. as another attempt to knock him out of the political arena without a direct confrontation. The appointment of Yazdi to effectively mediate the dispute with Ahmadinejad is another Khamenei effort to nip this in the bud since Khamenei knows Yazdi and Ahmadinejad used to have a mentor/mentee type relationship. However, Ahmadinejad has shown he is a politically savvy non-cleric who has ambitions that don't include the existence of the Supreme Leader so I'm sure he has his plays mapped out already.

    Satellites and the internet are not enough to figure this all out. Questions remain regarding what exactly happened on 11/12/2011 in Bidganeh when Moghaddam got killed. Was Khamenei supposed to be there? Was the IRGC involved? If so, what does that say about where they'll come down on the Khamenei/Ahmadinejad issue? Ahmadinejad has been effectively buying key IRGC people off with the privatization the last few years. Khamenei has to know that and is probably now paranoid.

    February 20, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Medium Tedium

      Wow. You sure have the skinny on Yowza and Almond-ding. Thanks for a great post!

      February 20, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Medium Tedium

    This TORI is a troll.

    February 20, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. saywhat

    In bothe these countries Israel & Iran the current regimes face growing discontent on economic & social issues. Beginning last August we saw massive demonstrations in Israel against the policies of Netanyahu's govt like in Iran. Barring the extreme right wing mindset ruling Tel Aviv, majority of Israelis are against netanyahu policies.
    Both these regimes are looking for ways to divert attention from critical internal issues.

    February 20, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinker23

      I'd recommend you to GET A CLUE of what you're talking about. The demonstrations in Israel were about the rising housing prices, not about Netanyahu's policies...

      February 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. saywhat

    @ Thinker23
    You got it wrong my friend.
    Social reforms, diversion of much needed funds to military spending, housing, support for two nation solution all formed the movement. In essence they were against the policies of the current regime.
    I closely follwed those developments thru orgs like JVP Jewish Voice for Peace) & JStreet.

    February 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. saywhat

    In fact in Feb of this year Independant Jewish Voices sharply criticized Netanyahu for trumping up the ranian nuke threat to divert attention from this growing discontent.

    February 20, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Anthonia

    These fields intersect quite a bit, and often people get them confused. I'm going to give a hypothetical story that'll help you remember the difference between the three, and a quick summary of each. Jimmy Helpnot, a young white adult of 19 years of age decided on Monday to go rob a bank, using ...","name":"Communication, Sociology, Psychology: A Quick Guide

    March 25, 2012 at 7:00 am | Report abuse |