U.N. Watchdog Finds Few Changes in Iran Nuclear Effort

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Nov. 13, 2013, 9:02 a.m.

The U.N. atom­ic watch­dog said Ir­an has not made “rad­ic­al” changes to its nuc­le­ar pro­gram in re­cent months, as the in­ter­na­tion­al com­munity has looked for signs that its new gov­ern­ment will curb atom­ic activ­it­ies, Re­u­ters re­por­ted on Wed­nes­day.

The In­ter­na­tion­al Atom­ic En­ergy Agency is poised to re­lease a quarterly re­port on Ir­an in the com­ing days — and the U.N. body’s lead­er sug­ges­ted it will show the coun­try has neither sig­ni­fic­antly curbed nor ex­pan­ded its urani­um-en­rich­ment work dur­ing the Au­gust-to-Novem­ber peri­od.

“I can say that en­rich­ment activ­it­ies are on­go­ing … no rad­ic­al change is re­por­ted to me,” IAEA Dir­ect­or Gen­er­al Yukiya Amano told Re­u­ters in an in­ter­view in Vi­enna.

The IAEA quarterly as­sess­ment is the first one con­duc­ted since the mod­er­ate Has­san Rouh­ani be­came pres­id­ent in Au­gust, when he re­placed Mah­moud Ah­mad­ine­jad, an un­com­prom­ising con­ser­vat­ive.

Amano re­portedly said Ir­an is con­tinu­ing to en­rich urani­um to 20 per­cent, which could be quickly con­ver­ted to bomb fuel. There have been mixed re­ports about wheth­er Tehran has stopped such en­rich­ment to 20 per­cent.

Amano, though, also re­portedly said that Ir­an has not sig­ni­fic­antly in­creased its urani­um-en­rich­ment work over the three-month time­frame.

Since Rouh­ani came to of­fice, Ir­an has been ne­go­ti­at­ing with both the In­ter­na­tion­al Atom­ic En­ergy Agency and the “P-5+1” na­tions — the five per­man­ent U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil mem­bers plus Ger­many — about curb­ing is nuc­le­ar activ­it­ies. Tehran in­sists its atom­ic-de­vel­op­ment work is peace­ful in nature, though in­ter­na­tion­al skep­tics fear it is ori­ented to­ward weapons de­vel­op­ment.

Ir­an on Monday agreed to al­low the In­ter­na­tion­al Atom­ic En­ergy Agency to con­duct in­spec­tions of two nuc­le­ar sites. An Ir­a­ni­an of­fi­cial on Tues­day ad­ded the re­view of the new Arak heavy-wa­ter nuc­le­ar re­act­or could be con­duc­ted be­fore his coun­try and the U.N. body re­sume talks on Dec. 11.

Amano told Re­u­ters that Ir­an still had “quite a lot to do” to com­plete the Arak re­act­or, which is in­ten­ded to pro­duce plutoni­um.

In Wash­ing­ton, U.S. Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry on Wed­nes­day planned to ask the Sen­ate Bank­ing Com­mit­tee to not ex­pand eco­nom­ic sanc­tions against Ir­an while the P-5+1 coun­tries con­tin­ue talks with Ir­an, which thus far have not yiel­ded a long-sought deal to curb Ir­a­ni­an atom­ic activ­it­ies.

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