Iran Talks Seen Hinging on Atomic Probe’s ‘Step Two’

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Iranian Atomic Energy Organization head Ali Akbar Salehi, left, shakes hands on Nov. 11 with International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukya Amano, as they reached a deal for greater IAEA oversight of Iran's nuclear program.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
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Diane Barnes
Dec. 12, 2013, 10:02 a.m.

Ir­an and the U.N. nuc­le­ar watch­dog agency on Wed­nes­day dis­cussed how to take their co­oper­a­tion bey­ond a lim­ited agree­ment they reached last month.

The terms they fi­nal­ized on Nov. 11 are dis­tinct from a nuc­le­ar ac­cord that Ir­an reached later in the month with the five per­man­ent U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil mem­ber na­tions and Ger­many. Del­eg­ates from Ir­an and the U.N. agency in a joint state­ment said they spent Wed­nes­day go­ing over de­tails on their six-pronged pact, in­ten­ded to help in­ter­na­tion­al of­fi­cials en­sure that cer­tain Ir­a­ni­an atom­ic activ­it­ies are not con­trib­ut­ing to arms de­vel­op­ment.

A seni­or U.S. of­fi­cial on Thursday sug­ges­ted the fate of the more closely watched “P-5+1” deal — de­signed to help ne­go­ti­at­ors ham­mer out a broad­er ar­range­ment on the Middle East­ern na­tion’s sus­pec­ted nuc­le­ar-arms am­bi­tions — would rely heav­ily on the Per­sian Gulf power’s co­oper­a­tion in com­ing months with the In­ter­na­tion­al Atom­ic En­ergy Agency.

Read­ing the joint state­ment, IAEA safe­guards chief Tero Var­jor­anta noted that IAEA aud­it­ors achieved pro­gress un­der that bi­lat­er­al deal on Sunday. That day marked their first trip in over two years to an Ir­a­ni­an heavy-wa­ter fa­cil­ity that has stoked glob­al con­cerns about Tehran’s in­cip­i­ent ca­pa­city to make nuc­le­ar-bomb fuel.

“We also began to dis­cuss the next prac­tic­al steps — step two,” Var­jor­anta ad­ded in the shared re­marks. “We aim to reach agree­ment on what those prac­tic­al meas­ures are in our next tech­nic­al meet­ing, which is sched­uled for Jan. 21 in Tehran.”

Speak­ing on Thursday, a seni­or U.S. State De­part­ment of­fi­cial said that to de­fuse ten­sions with the “P-5+1 coun­tries, Ir­an must first dra­mat­ic­ally ex­pand co­oper­a­tion with the U.N. atom­ic agency. 

Tehran agreed with the six na­tions to “ad­dress past and present prac­tices, which is the IAEA ter­min­o­logy for pos­sible mil­it­ary di­men­sions” to its atom­ic ef­forts, Wendy Sher­man, the U.S. un­der­sec­ret­ary of State for polit­ic­al af­fairs, said at a Sen­ate Bank­ing Com­mit­tee hear­ing on Thursday.

She said Ir­an’s steps should in­clude grant­ing IAEA aud­it­ors ac­cess to its Parchin mil­it­ary base, where IAEA of­fi­cials be­lieve Tehran might have car­ried out nuc­le­ar arms-re­lated ex­per­i­ments.

“We in­tend to sup­port the IAEA in its ef­forts to deal with pos­sible mil­it­ary di­men­sions, in­clud­ing Parchin,” Sher­man said in re­sponse to a ques­tion from Sen­at­or Tim John­son (D-S.D.), the pan­el’s chair­man.

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.

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