still stalling as nuclear deal deadline looms: watchdog
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[November 20, 2014]
By Fredrik Dahl
VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran has yet to explain
suspected atomic bomb research to the U.N. nuclear agency, its head said
on Thursday, just four days before a deadline for a comprehensive deal
between Iran and six world powers to end the 12-year-old controversy.
After nearly a year of difficult diplomacy, Washington is pushing
for agreement on at least the outline of a future accord and U.S.
Secretary of State John Kerry will attend talks with Iran, France,
Germany, Britain, Russia and China on Friday.
But Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic
Energy Agency, made clear it was far from satisfied, saying it was
not in a position to provide "credible assurance" Iran had no
undeclared nuclear material and activities.
The accord is intended to set limits on Iran's atomic activities in
return for an end to international sanctions that have seriously
hurt its oil-dependent economy.
As one of the conditions, Western officials say Iran must stop
stonewalling the IAEA investigation into allegations Iran may have
worked on designing a nuclear-armed missile, although some experts
feel this should not be a deal-breaker.
"Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the agency to
clarify the outstanding practical measures," Amano told the U.N.
agency's 35-nation board of governors.
He was referring to information Iran was supposed to have given the
IAEA by late August concerning allegations of explosives tests and
other activity that could indicate preparations for developing
"I call upon Iran to increase its cooperation with the agency and to
provide timely access to all relevant information, documentation,
sites, material and personnel," Amano said.
Iran denies any intention of seeking atomic weapons, saying its
nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity.
While the powers want Iran to scale back its uranium enrichment
program - and thereby lengthen the timeline for any covert bid to
assemble nuclear arms - the IAEA is investigating allegations of
past research on designing an actual bomb.
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Even though it has long been clear that the IAEA's inquiry would not
be completed before the target date for a deal with the powers,
Western diplomats had hoped for more progress by now.
Israel and hawkish U.S. lawmakers may pounce on any accord if they
feel it does not sufficiently resolve the issue.
"The agency is ready to accelerate resolution of all outstanding
issues," Amano said. He would present an assessment to the IAEA
board "once the agency has established an understanding of the whole
picture concerning issues with possible military dimensions" in
Experts differ on the need for Iran to come clean about all its
alleged bomb-related work in the past: some say full disclosure is
necessary to make sure that any such research has since ceased,
while others argue this objective can be achieved without a full
(Editing by Philippa Fletcher)
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