Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (AEA), Reza Najafi, during the IAEA Board of Governors meeting in Vienna yesterday.
VIENNA: Iran is reducing its most proliferation-prone nuclear stockpile as required by its landmark deal with world powers but much work remains to be done to resolve all concerns about Tehran’s activities, the U.N. atomic watchdog chief said yesterday.
Among measures Iran is taking since the interim agreement took effect on Jan. 20 is the dilution of its stock of higher-enriched uranium to a fissile concentration less suitable for any attempt to fuel an atomic bomb.
Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), indicated that Iran had made sufficient progress in this regard to receive a scheduled March 1 instalment of $450m out of a total of $4.2bn in previously blocked overseas funds.
The IAEA has a pivotal role in checking that Iran is living up to its part of the six-month accord in curbing its disputed nuclear programme in exchange for some easing of sanctions that have impaired its oil-dependent economy.
“As of today, measures agreed under the Joint Plan of Action are being implemented as planned,” Amano said, referring to the Nov. 24 agreement struck in Geneva between Iran and the United States, Germany, France, Russia, China and Britain.
These included “the dilution of a proportion of Iran’s inventory” of 20 percent uranium gas to a lower enrichment level, which “has reached the halfway mark”, he told the IAEA’s 35-nation board, according to a copy of his speech.
Under the accord, Iran suspended enrichment of uranium to 20 percent fissile concentration - a relatively short technical step away from the level required for nuclear bombs - and is taking action to neutralise its holding of the material.
In return, Iran is gradually winning access to $4.2 billion of its oil revenues frozen abroad and some other sanctions relief. The funds will be paid out in eight transfers on a schedule that started with a $550m payment by Japan on February 1.
Last month, banking sources said South Korea was set to make two payments in March totalling $1bn.