IAEA, Iran progress on nuclear bomb probe

2014-05-21 22:17
Iran nuclear facility

Iran nuclear facility

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Vienna - Iran has agreed to address some of the many long-held allegations that it conducted research into making nuclear weapons before 2003 and possibly since, the UN atomic watchdog said on Wednesday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said that Iran, which denies ever having sought nuclear weapons, has undertaken to implement five new "practical measures" by 25 August.

These included two steps related to what the IAEA calls the "possible military dimensions" (PMD) of Iran's nuclear programme - in other words efforts to design a nuclear bomb.

The announcement comes after an apparently largely fruitless fourth round of talks between Iran and six world powers in Vienna last week towards a comprehensive deal over Tehran's nuclear programme by a 20 July deadline.

One of the key elements in this sought-after deal would be Iran addressing the PMD allegations, which the IAEA set out in a major report in November 2011 and which it has been pressing Iran to answer ever since.

That report said that the evidence it has been given, which it judges to be "overall, credible", indicated that Iran "has carried out activities that are relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device."

Iran says that the trove of evidence presented by the IAEA on these activities, which the Vienna agency believes took place before 2003 and possibly since, is based on faulty intelligence provided by the CIA and Israel's Mossad.

The first new PMD step is "exchanging information" with the IAEA on allegations related to the initiation of high explosives, "including the conduct of large-scale high explosives experimentation in Iran", the IAEA said on Wednesday.

Explanations

The second is Iran providing "mutually agreed relevant information and explanations related to studies made and/or papers published in Iran in relation to neutron transport and associated modelling and calculations and their alleged application to compressed materials".

The 2011 IAEA report said that it was "unclear" how the application of such modelling studies could be used for "anything other than a nuclear explosive" and that it was "essential" that Iran provide an explanation.

Two other steps announced on Wednesday concern Iran's current nuclear programme, in particular with regard to uranium enrichment, which can provide fuel for nuclear reactors but also the fissile core of a nuclear weapon.

Iran has pledged to arranging an IAEA visit to a centre conducting research into new types of centrifuges which could enrich uranium at a much faster rate, and access to a facility making centrifuge parts, the IAEA said.

The final step involves giving the IAEA greater oversight on Iran's new Arak reactor, which Western countries fear could provide Tehran with weapons-grade plutonium once it is operational.

Read more on:    iaea  |  iran  |  iran nuclear programme
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