A senior Indian official said on Wednesday that top Iranian officials with whom External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had discussions are "very positive" about the Indian suggestion that the Iranian nuclear standoff be resolved at the level of the International Atomic Energy Agency. His account of the discussions indicated that there was a frank, but constructive exchange of views on the issue by the two sides, a fact the augured well for Indo-Iran bilateral relations.
The official said that Mukherjee bluntly told Iranian officials — which included the chief nuclear negotiator and National Security Advisor Ali, the head of the Expediency Council Akbar Hashmi Rafsanjani and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — that Tehran needed to "clarify all the verification issues that are hanging over your head by a process of transparency."
In response the Iranian side made three points: First that Iran does not want nuclear weapons and won't make them; second, that they had the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy, a right they were not prepared to give up; and third, that Tehran would not accept any pre-conditions on "their side" or "our side."
Indeed, the senior official said that the Iranians were willing to "give a guarantee" that they would clear everything with the IAEA — the doubts about the material, what they had been doing and so on. But, the Iranian side was clear that they would not accept any political preconditions. This was a position that the India was not unsympathetic to. However, he said that on whether Iran should stop enrichment before the punitive measures are lifted can easily be "pre-negotiated." In other words, both sides could make iron-clad commitments in advance and work out a sequence on how the steps will be implemented.