Amano: IAEA Work on Iran Not Over

Amano: IAEA Work on Iran Not OverAmano: IAEA Work on Iran Not Over

The task of the UN nuclear agency is not over after the conclusion of its investigation into Iran's nuclear past and there is still a long way ahead, the UN nuclear chief said.

"This is not over yet. It has not started yet," International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano said about the work of his nuclear inspectors in a recent interview with German news agency DPA in Vienna.

Over the past weeks, Tehran has been working to put in place temporary curbs it accepted on its nuclear program under the July nuclear deal with major powers in return for sanctions relief.

Implementation Day will arrive once the IAEA has confirmed that all the curbs are in place.  

However, the start of the nuclear deal, marking the end of over a decade of negotiations, will not stop IAEA's close scrutiny of Tehran's array of nuclear installations.

"This will last for a long time," the IAEA chief said.

  Powerful Verification Tool

When Iran closed the deal with the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China in July, it agreed to an inspection plan that will be phased out after 15 years.

"This is the most powerful verification tool" that the IAEA has in place anywhere in the world, Amano said.

"Iran's nuclear issue has a very complicated history and confidence is lacking," Amano claimed.

The IAEA board of governors adopted a resolution on Dec. 15 announcing the closure of about 12 years of probe into Iran's past nuclear activities.

Now it will have to check that Iran honors its side of the agreement.

Nuclear experts of the Vienna-based agency will have to monitor Iran's many far-flung nuclear sites, from a uranium mine near the Persian Gulf coast in the south to the uranium enrichment plant in Natanz, 1,000 km to north.

  Historic Challenge

"It is a very big historic challenge for us," the nuclear agency's chief said.

Amano said IAEA inspectors would be able to find out very quickly if any nuclear materials were misused at any of these facilities.

"If they try to hide something, we normally find indications somewhere and start to ask questions," Amano said.

The inspections under the nuclear deal will require significant input of money and staff from the IAEA.

The nuclear agency will need €9.2 million ($10 million) a year to finance the effort, equivalent to 7% of its total inspection budget last year.

"We do not have the full amount yet," Amano said.

The IAEA's most immediate task is to verify the steps that Iran has to undertake before the start of the nuclear deal, which could take place in late January, according to Iranian officials.

For example, nuclear inspectors will take uranium samples and analyze them at a laboratory near Vienna, to ensure that the material's purity is low as declared by Iran, in contrast to the high grades needed for nuclear weapons.

"We don't take anything at face value," Amano said.

Iran says its nuclear work has no military aspects and totally pursues peaceful purposes.