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

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
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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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