Nuclear Research to Continue

Nuclear Research to Continue
Nuclear Research to Continue

An informed source close to the nuclear negotiating team said on Friday that Iran will continue its nuclear research and development program during the seven-month extension period for the talks with the major powers on a compressive nuclear deal.

"Based on the Geneva agreement, Iran will continue its R&D activities over the next seven months and there will be no change in this regard," the source told IRNA in reference to the report claiming that Iran has agreed not to expand its testing of advanced centrifuge machines under the terms of an extended interim nuclear agreement.

Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) failed to meet a self-imposed November 24 target date to reach a long-term settlement to the 12-year dispute over Tehran's nuclear work and decided to extend their talks on a final deal for seven months until June 30, 2015.

As a result, the interim accord they signed in Geneva late last year will remain in place during the seven-month period.  Under the preliminary agreement, Iran agreed to temporarily scale down parts of its nuclear activities in exchange for limited sanctions relief. The Geneva deal says Tehran could continue its "current enrichment R&D (research and development) practices."

Reuters on Thursday quoted US experts with knowledge of the issue as saying that Iran would refrain from expanding its testing of more efficient models of the machine used to refine uranium under the extension of the preliminary deal.

A US think-tank claimed Iran would effectively be prevented from "moving to the next level of development" of its new centrifuges.

The Arms Control Association's Iran expert did not say where the information came from. But another Washington-based analyst cited the same text and said it was based on "briefing materials" shared by officials familiar with the negotiations.

"The new restrictions more fully implement the spirit of Iran's commitment ... to not engage in any R&D activities that could advance its nuclear program during the course of this interim agreement," the second analyst said.

During this period, the US experts said, Iran cannot feed a centrifuge known as the IR-5 with uranium gas and also not install the so-called IR-8 at an R&D site. They are among centrifuges that Iran has been seeking to develop to replace the IR-1 machine it now operates.