A top European Union official said the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany have accepted an offer from Iran to restart negotiations on Tehran’s nuclear program, according to reports.
Catherine Ashton, the foreign policy boss at the EU, said she was responding to a letter she received in February from Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili. The letter offered new discussions after more than a year of stalling.
Ashton said in a statement she hopes Iran “will now enter into a sustained process of constructive dialogue which will deliver real progress in resolving the international community's long-standing concerns on its nuclear program.”
Ashton noted that the goal of such talks would be a comprehensive negotiated, long-term solution which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program.
A time and location for the talks hasn't yet been set.
The two sides, however, appear to be far apart on the nuclear issue. The UN group has demanded Iran halt all uranium enrichment activities, while Iran insists it has the right to develop nuclear power and that it only wants to apply the technology for peaceful purposes like electrical generation.
The impasse has great urgency amid Israel’s warnings that it won't tolerate Iran having nuclear power. Israel has said it may launch a pre-emptive military strike on Iranian atomic facilities -- much like it has done in the past with Syria and Iraq.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Monday at the White House to talk about their concerns and differences regarding Iran. Obama and other western heads of state have urged Israel to refrain from attacking Iran and to allow economic sanctions to force Iran into giving up its nuclear program.
Meanwhile, Israel has said the International Atomic Energy Agency shares its fears Iran is developing nuclear weapons. The UN’s nuclear watchdog recently warned it has serious concerns about the military nature of Tehran’s atomic endeavors.
Separately, the Iranian Student's News Agency (ISNA) reported that Iran will permit UN inspectors access to a military complex in Parchin, which western observers believe is the site of an atomic project.
Iranian officials previously prohibited UN agents from accessing the site, which is just south of Tehran.
Last year, IAEA officials wrote that Iran had constructed a containment chamber at Parchin to conduct tests that strongly suggested they're seeking to build an atomic bomb.