UN nuclear watchdog says pace of Iran's cooperation slow

Iran wants Western countries to swiftly lift crippling economic sanctions in any deal curbing its nuclear programme


Reuters March 02, 2015
The IAEA is likely to monitor the implementation of any deal between Iran and the six powers. PHOTO: AFP

VIENNA: The UN nuclear watchdog said on Monday that Iran was slow to cooperate with the agency's investigation into the Iranian atomic programme and that the inquiry could not continue indefinitely.

Diplomats have voiced doubt over whether the outstanding issues in the UN investigation would be resolved before a broader diplomatic agreement is reached between Iran and the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany.

The seven countries have set a deadline of late March for a framework deal and June for a comprehensive final settlement that would curb Iran's nuclear activity to ensure it cannot be put to bomb making in return for the lifting of international sanctions that have hammered the oil-based Iranian economy.

When asked about a time frame for the UN inquiry running parallel to the higher-level negotiations, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano said: "It depends on the level and pace of cooperation from Iran, I cannot tell by when... "We have asked questions and the questions are clear, so (Iran) can answer."

Iran has yet to address two outstanding issues relating to alleged explosives tests and other measures that might have been used for nuclear bomb research which it should have explained away by last August. The West fears Iran wants to develop atomic bomb capability. Tehran says its programme is for peaceful nuclear energy only.

The IAEA remains ready to accelerate the resolution of all outstanding issues, Amano added, but "this process cannot continue indefinitely". Iran's leading negotiator Abbas Araqchi met with Amano last week, promising swifter cooperation, but neither side has spelled out any details. Iran wants Western countries to swiftly lift crippling economic sanctions in any deal curbing its nuclear programme- one of the sticking points in high-level negotiations continuing in Switzerland this week.

The IAEA is likely to monitor the implementation of any deal between Iran and the six powers. Amano said he proposed a 1.8 per cent increase to the body's 344 million-euro ($386 million) budget given increased demand for its services.

He reiterated deep concern about the nuclear activities of North Korea, which quit the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1993. The IAEA has not had inspectors on the ground there since they were expelled by North Korea in 2009.

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