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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