IAEA Probe No Impediment to Talks

IAEA Probe No Impediment to Talks
IAEA Probe No Impediment to Talks

A lack of progress in the UN nuclear agency's investigation into allegations that Iran may have pursued nuclear weapons in the past will not impede officials seeking a far-reaching accord on Tehran's nuclear program, Bloomberg on Tuesday quoted unnamed diplomats briefed on the matter as saying.

A resolution to what the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) calls the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear work has been described by the West as one of the gaps that should be bridged for a comprehensive nuclear deal. Iran and the six major powers (the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany) are in talks to work out a long-term settlement to the dispute over Iran's nuclear activities by a November 24 target date.   

Reasonable Approach

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano told diplomats last month that Iran’s goal to reach an accord before addressing questions about its past is reasonable, according to two people who attended the meetings, and a third with knowledge of the briefing.            

The diplomats asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the nuclear talks which resume later this month in the Austrian capital.

“Now is not the best time to make rapid progress,” Amano said at the Brookings Institution in Washington on October 31. “But it doesn’t mean there will not be progress in the future.”

The IAEA’s quarterly report about Iran is scheduled to be circulated among member states this week in Vienna.

Inspectors are expected to say Iran has adhered to an interim agreement it reached with the major powers last November that capped some nuclear activities in exchange for limited sanctions relief, according to the diplomats.

  Political Will

Amano said his August visit with President Hassan Rouhani showed that political will exists in Iran to resolve the nuclear dispute.

The investigation into Iran’s past relies on a set of intelligence documents given to the IAEA that allege weapons experiments were conducted. Former IAEA directors including Sweden’s Hans Blix and Egypt’s Mohamed Elbaradei, as well as ex-agency inspectors, have been critical about the quality of the information. Iran says the documents are fake.

Diplomats said in September Iran inspectors may never reach a conclusion as to whether the country sought a nuclear weapon. That decision may be left for the diplomats of the IAEA’s 35-member board of governors to decide.

Iran says its nuclear program is meant only for peaceful purposes, such as power generation, denying the allegation it may have been seeking to develop the capability to build nuclear weapons.