Iran’s atomic chief visits Prague to talk nuclear business

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Iran's vice president and nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi addresses media during a press conference in Prague, Czech Republic, Monday, May 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Iran’s vice president and nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi addresses media during a press conference in Prague, Czech Republic, Monday, May 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

(AP) — With sanctions lifted, the head of Iran’s nuclear program came to talk business with Czech leaders.

The Czech Foreign Ministry said the two-day visit by Iran’s vice president and nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, focused on developing a bilateral nuclear cooperation. The Czechs say that would contribute to better international control of Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran is seeking help from European nations to better its civilian program.

After their meeting on the first day of Salehi’s visit on Monday, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said a nuclear energy cooperation with Iran in particular “represents a huge opportunity.” Zaoralek didn’t offer details.

The Czechs heavily rely on nuclear energy and plan to build more reactors.

Last year’s landmark nuclear deal between Iran and world powers lifted painful international sanctions in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear activities. Iran has denied ever seeking atomic weapons, insisting its nuclear program is for purely civilian purposes.

With the deal struck, Salehi said “a new opportunity is in front of us.”

In Prague, Salehi also met with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and visited the Institute of Nuclear Research in Rez, near Prague. Salehi was also scheduled to hold talks with the industry and trade minister on Monday night, and the head of the nuclear watchdog on Tuesday.

“I was really astonished and bewildered by the level of the advancement of your scientists at this very sensitive and important technology,” Salehi said.

“We have decided to start on few projects and then build up as we move and proceed in time and try to expand this cooperation in the nuclear technology further and further.”

He mentioned nuclear safety as an example of a future cooperation with the Czechs and added Iran wants to work to enhance “our (nuclear) regulatory body using Czech experience.”

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