U.N. Atomic Chief Intends to Advance Probe into Iran Nuclear Efforts

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International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano, shown in November, on Friday said he hopes in March to unveil new steps in a long-stalled investigation into Iran's nuclear program.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
Jan. 24, 2014, 9:48 a.m.

The U.N. nuc­le­ar watch­dog agency chief on Fri­day said he hopes to un­veil new steps in a long-stalled in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram in March.

In a Fri­day speech to his or­gan­iz­a­tion’s mul­tina­tion­al gov­ern­ing board, In­ter­na­tion­al Atom­ic En­ergy Agency Dir­ect­or Gen­er­al Yukiya Amano also said he would up­date the body at its next meet­ing on how Tehran is hand­ling a half-dozen pledges it made to the U.N. agency in Novem­ber. The co­oper­a­tion frame­work was agreed in par­al­lel to — but sep­ar­ate from — the deal Ir­an made with six ma­jor world powers on re­strict­ing its nuc­le­ar ef­forts in ex­change for some sanc­tions re­lief.

At the same time, Amano said he in­tends “to identi­fy the next meas­ures en­vis­aged un­der the frame­work,” when the 35-na­tion IAEA Board of Gov­ernors con­venes its next five-day meet­ing on March 3.

His agency’s probe in Ir­an is dis­tinct from its mon­it­or­ing role un­der a closely watched nuc­le­ar agree­ment between Tehran and the per­man­ent five mem­bers of the U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil plus Ger­many. In the in­vest­ig­a­tion, the Vi­enna-based or­gan­iz­a­tion is seek­ing to de­term­ine wheth­er Ir­an car­ried out activ­it­ies in the past rel­ev­ant to the po­ten­tial weapon­iz­a­tion of its peace­ful nuc­le­ar pro­gram.

Win­ning ac­cess to Ir­an’s Parchin mil­it­ary base has figured high among the agency’s pri­or­it­ies since late 2011. At that time, Amano re­vealed in­dic­a­tions that the fa­cil­ity might have hos­ted sci­entif­ic activ­it­ies po­ten­tially of use in a nuc­le­ar-arms de­vel­op­ment ef­fort.

Ir­a­ni­an and IAEA of­fi­cials are sched­uled to hold their next meet­ing about the U.N. in­quiry on Feb. 8. The gath­er­ing was pre­vi­ously slated for Jan. 21, but par­ti­cipants delayed it at Tehran’s re­quest.

Mean­while, nu­mer­ous coun­tries at Fri­day’s meet­ing offered fin­an­cial con­tri­bu­tions to sup­port ad­di­tion­al IAEA sur­veil­lance activ­it­ies re­quired un­der Ir­an’s six-month agree­ment with the five per­man­ent U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil mem­ber na­tions and Ger­many, par­ti­cipants told Re­u­ters. The ex­pan­ded mon­it­or­ing is ex­pec­ted to cost roughly $8 mil­lion for the agree­ment’s half-year dur­a­tion, Amano said.

Im­ple­ment­ing Tehran’s ar­range­ment with the “P-5+1” na­tions “will be a fur­ther im­port­ant step to­wards achiev­ing a com­pre­hens­ive solu­tion to the Ir­an nuc­le­ar is­sue. But there is still a long way to go,” the IAEA dir­ect­or gen­er­al said on Fri­day. The mul­ti­lat­er­al ac­cord took ef­fect earli­er this week.

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