BY AP June 8, 2015, 11:30 am | The Times of Israel
VIENNA — Iran must cooperate with a stalled UN probe of suspicions that it worked on atomic arms if the country wants a nuclear deal that will see removal of sanctions, the European Union said Monday.
The cautionary EU statement comes ahead of a June 30 target date for such an agreement.
It was obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its delivery at a meeting of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency that opens Monday.
Iran denies any work on — or interest in — nuclear arms and has fended off IAEA demands for cooperation with its investigation.
The EU statement says getting to the bottom of the allegations “will be essential” to a nuclear deal.
Iran also would have to accept limits on its present nuclear activities.
On Sunday, an EU delegation was stopped from speaking to foreign media in Tehran on Sunday, with an Iranian security official threatening action against reporters and photographers if they tried to film the incident.
Having called a press conference at their hotel in the capital, the plans of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament were disrupted, prompting an angry exchange on the street.
Sunday’s incident occurred despite the group of seven EU lawmakers being invited to Tehran by their Iranian counterparts.
The group, which will leave Tehran later Sunday, was the first European parliament delegation to visit Iran since December 2013.
On April 2, Iran and the P5+1 — the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia plus Germany — agreed to the main outlines of the nuclear deal, with Tehran agreeing to mothball parts of its atomic program.
The EU delegation met senior Iranian politicians including parliament speaker Ali Larijani and Masoumeh Ebtekar, one of Iran’s vice presidents.
“With this visit the European Parliament wants to give a strong signal of its commitment to building trust in this key moment in EU-Iran relations,” Elmar Brok, chairman of the EU committee said separately in a statement.
The talks centered on instability in the Middle East, including in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, as well as drug smuggling in neighboring Afghanistan, climate change and the environment.
US President Barack Obama is expected to huddle with his European counterparts over the emerging Iranian nuclear deal while at the G7 summit of world leaders in Germany this week.
The president was expected to try to push French President Francois Hollande on dropping some reservations about the pact in a meeting on the sidelines of the summit Monday.
France at times has taken a harder line and expressed more skepticism than Washington on the Iran negotiations.
Richard Fontaine, president of the Center for New American Security who worked on foreign policy in President George W. Bush’s White House, said he would advise Obama to deliver a direct message to Hollande.
“What is it going to take to get you back on the bus? Because let’s keep these disagreements behind closed doors, rather than doing this in the press, which is harmful to our position,” Fontaine said.