IAEA report to show Tehran curbing atomic activity

May 23, 2014 - 8:36:31 am
Iranian President Hassan Rowhani (right) and China’s President Xi Jinping attend a welcoming ceremony at the Xijiao State Guest House in Shanghai yesterday.

VIENNA: A UN atomic watchdog report due today is likely to confirm that Iran is curbing its nuclear activities as agreed with world powers in a landmark accord last year, diplomatic sources said.

They said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would probably verify in a monthly update that Iran is living up to its part of the interim agreement struck in November, designed to buy time for talks on a long-term deal.

The update “will show continuing compliance”, one Western diplomat said yesterday. The report is also expected to include information about Iran’s agreement this week to address two issues in a long-stalled IAEA investigation into suspected atomic bomb research by Tehran, which denies any such work.

The undertaking could advance the research the IAEA is trying to carry out, and may also help Iran and six world powers to negotiate a broader deal to end a dispute that has raised fears of a new Middle East war.

But Western capitals are likely to remain sceptical until it has fully implemented the agreed steps and others to clear up allegations of illicit atomic work.

The IAEA-Iran talks are separate from those between Tehran and the six powers — United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia. But they are complementary as both focus on fears that Iran may covertly be seeking the means and expertise to assemble nuclear weapons, which it denies.

US officials say it is vital for Iran to address the IAEA’s concerns if Washington and five other powers are to reach a long-term nuclear accord with Iran by a self-imposed deadline of July 20. But the Islamic state’s repeated denials of any nuclear bomb aspirations will make it hard for it to admit to any wrongdoing in the past without losing face.

Under last year’s deal, Iran scaled back its most sensitive work in exchange for some sanctions easing. Diplomats and experts say it will be much more difficult to agree the terms of a final deal, as Iran and the powers remain far apart on the permissible scope of its nuclear programme, especially regarding its uranium enrichment capacity.