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

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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