Geneva Accord Not Violated

Geneva Accord Not ViolatedGeneva Accord Not Violated

Some experts rejected the claim by a US think tank that Iran may have violated last year's interim nuclear deal with the major powers by stepping up efforts to develop a machine that could enrich uranium faster, Reuters reported on Sunday.

The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), whose founder David Albright often briefs US lawmakers and others on nuclear proliferation issues, cited a finding in a new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about Iran.  

The confidential document, issued to IAEA member states on Friday, said that since the UN agency's previous report in September Iran had "intermittently" been feeding natural uranium gas into a single so-called IR-5 centrifuge at a research facility.

The IR-5 is one of several new models that Iran has been seeking to develop to replace the IR-1 centrifuge that it now uses to produce refined uranium.

Unlike other advanced models under development -- IR-2m, IR-4 and IR-6 -- at a research site at its Natanz enrichment plant, Iran had until now not fed the IR-5 with uranium gas.

"Iran may have violated (the interim accord it reached with the major powers in Geneva last November) by starting to feed (natural uranium gas) into one of its advanced centrifuges, namely the IR-5 centrifuge," ISIS said in an analysis.

But the Washington-based Arms Control Association, a research and advocacy group, said it saw no violation, adding that "no enriched uranium is being withdrawn from the machine".

Jofi Joseph, a former director for non-proliferation on the White House National Security Council staff, also said Iran had not violated the agreement. "That would only occur if Iran introduced a brand new centrifuge model to the facility and began feeding it uranium," he wrote in an email.

Iran denies the allegation that it may have been seeking to develop the capability to build nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear program and says it produces low-enriched uranium to make fuel for nuclear power plants.

Under the Geneva deal with the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain, Iran can continue its "current enrichment R&D (research and development) practices."

Iran's nuclear research program was one of the thorniest issues to resolve in the negotiations on the temporary accord, which was designed to buy time for talks on a permanent settlement by a November 24 deadline. It is expected to be a key issue also in any long-term deal.

  No Commitment to Halt R&D

In response to the US think tank's claim, the spokesperson for the Atomic Energy organization of Iran said Tehran has made no commitment to halt its nuclear research and development program under the Geneva accord.

"With doing so (feeding uranium gas into the IR-5 centrifuge) Iran has not violated either the safeguards agreements or the Joint Plan of Action (the Geneva deal) because Iran is not only allowed to feed gas into one machine, but it can feed gas into a cascade and is allowed to continue its research and development program," Behrouz Kamalvandi told the Fars news agency in an interview on Sunday.