France said Iran must quickly answer U.N. questions on its atomic past to defuse a nuclear standoff by a July cutoff date, Reuters reports.
Iran's disclosures to the International Atomic Energy Agency are "progressing too slowly," French foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nedal said on Tuesday.
The U.N. organization last week reported that Tehran had elaborated days earlier on its prior work with "exploding bridgewire detonators," which can help to trigger nuclear explosions, Reuters reported separately. The watchdog agency said the disclosures marked Iran's first substantive engagement since 2008 with an investigation aimed at determining whether arms ambitions have partly motivated the country's nuclear efforts, which ostensibly are entirely peaceful.
The French foreign ministry spokesman said that "concrete results [in the IAEA-Iran talks] are indispensable before the possible finalization of a long-term [nuclear] agreement" between Tehran and six other governments. The sides are pushing for a deal to restrict Iran's weapon-usable atomic activities and lift sanctions against the Persian Gulf power.
"More needs to be done between now and July," the official added. Negotiators want to complete a deal by July 20, when an interim accord is scheduled to expire.
IAEA officials still have a significant number of questions, making it likely that some will remain unanswered by the July goal date, according to the Los Angeles Times. That would leave the six other negotiating powers with the task of assessing Iran's nuclear ambitions, according to David Albright, head of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington.
The European Union on Tuesday said Iran and the six powers would launch five days of high-level nuclear discussions on June 16, Reuters reported. The announcement came after EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton spoke on Monday and Tuesday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif about options for moving the negotiations forward.
This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.