ran’s ambassador to the IAEA Najafi attends a news conference in Vienna
VIENNA/DUBAI: The UN nuclear agency said yesterday that Iran had agreed to start addressing suspicions that it may have worked on designing an atomic weapon, a potential breakthrough in a long-stalled investigation into Tehran’s atomic activities.
The development — although limited for now — marked a step forward in an international push to settle a decade-old dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme. Tehran says this is peaceful, while the West fears that Iran wants to develop atomic arms.
The deal could also send a positive signal to separate negotiations between Iran and six world powers which are due to start on February 18 in Vienna, aimed at reaching a broader diplomatic settlement with the Islamic state.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran had agreed during talks in Tehran to take seven new practical measures within three months under a November transparency deal with the IAEA meant to help allay concern about the nuclear programme.
For the first time, one of them specifically dealt with an issue that is part of the UN nuclear agency’s inquiry into what it calls the possible military dimensions to Iran’s atomic activities. Iran has repeatedly denied any such ambitions.
It said Iran would provide “information and explanations for the agency to assess Iran’s stated need or application for the development of Exploding Bridge Wire detonators”. Although such fast-functioning detonators have some non-nuclear uses, they can also help set off an atomic device.
“It is an important issue and it is good that the agency can now tackle it,” former chief IAEA inspector Herman Nackaerts said. But he made clear that much work remained in order to fully clarify the IAEA’s concerns: “It is a first step in a long process.”