U.N. nuclear chief says still 'long way to go' on Iran

VIENNA Fri Jan 24, 2014 11:20am EST

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano addresses the media after a board of governors meeting at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna January 24, 2014. . REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano addresses the media after a board of governors meeting at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna January 24, 2014. .

Credit: Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader

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VIENNA (Reuters) - The U.N. nuclear chief said on Friday there was "still a long way to go" to resolve a decade-old dispute over Iran's nuclear program, a note of caution days after Tehran curbed its atomic activity under an interim deal with world powers.

Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, made the comment as he won broad backing from the IAEA's 35-nation board for the U.N. body's expanded role in Iran to check that it complies with the accord over the next six months.

Many governments said they would help pay the estimated $8 million the IAEA needs to inspect Iranian nuclear sites under the deal, which took effect on Monday, diplomats who attended the closed-door meeting said.

The IAEA will nearly double the number of people it already has working on Iran. Amano said the interim agreement - under which Iran will get relief from some economic sanctions - was an "important step forward towards achieving a comprehensive solution" to the nuclear dispute.

But, he added: "there is still a long way to go".

He told a news conference it would take "quite a long time" to resolve all outstanding issues, including a long-running IAEA probe into suspicions that Iran may have carried out research relevant for the development of nuclear weapons.

In the deal with the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia, Iran agreed to suspend its most sensitive nuclear activity in exchange for a limited easing of sanctions that are battering its oil-dependent economy.

After years of increasing economic isolation, Iran, under new President Hassan Rouhani, is seeking "constructive engagement" with the world, including the United States which Iranian politicians regularly refer to as the "Great Satan".

TOUGH TALKS AHEAD

The agreement hammered out in Geneva in November is designed to buy time for negotiations on a final settlement of the dispute over an Iranian nuclear program Tehran says is peaceful but the West fears may have military aims.

Those talks - expected to start in February - are likely to be more difficult than last year's negotiations, diplomats say, as the West is likely to seek a significant scaling back of Iran's uranium enrichment activity.

Refined uranium can provide fuel for nuclear power plants, Iran's stated aim, or provide weapons material if processed much further, which Western states fear may be the real goal.

The IAEA already inspects Iranian nuclear facilities regularly to make sure there is no diversion of material for military purposes. That work will now increase.

Until now, the IAEA had one-to-two teams of two inspectors each in Iran most of the time as well as experts working on the Iran file at its Vienna headquarters.

"We will need to nearly double the staff resources devoted to verification in Iran," Amano said. "We will need to significantly increase the frequency of the verification activities which we are currently conducting."

The U.S. envoy to the IAEA, Joseph Macmanus, said the United States would provide a funds and a dozen other countries told the board they would be ready to contribute. "There won't be any problem in financing this," a diplomat said.

Confirming a Reuters story earlier this month, Amano told the news conference that the agency may ask Iran's permission to set up a temporary office there for logistical purposes.

He also said inspectors would visit Iran's Gchine uranium mine in the next few days. Iranian state television earlier this month said visit - the first since 2005 - would take place on January 29.

(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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Comments (3)
Aryanpour wrote:
…and it will be the beginning of wasting money and time of the IAEA.To whom should we say we did not and do not and will not want nuclear weapons but we do want nuclear knowledge and technology and we will continue it under any circumstances.

Jan 24, 2014 6:19am EST  --  Report as abuse
AHLambauer wrote:
The fact of this suggestion to achieve supplementary funds for the supervision of the Joint Plan of Action concerning Iran’s nuclear programme shows, that this supervision is beyond NPT-duties of Iran.

Article VIII NPT provides for specific procedures for the amendment of the NPT. These procedures have not been met by the Geneva negotiations: neither in parties taking part nor in expressing their free will (with respect to Iran, which is under illegal sanctions’ coertion).

Nor are these AEIA procedures for additional funds able to replace those procedures of article VIII NPT.

Jan 24, 2014 6:32am EST  --  Report as abuse
Logical123 wrote:
Amano is a joke. He is totally incompetent for the job that he holds. It is best to ignore this ignoramus.

Jan 25, 2014 12:53pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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