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Middle East

IAEA still wants to probe Iran nuclear claims: Amano

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano answers reporters on the progress of nuclear negotiations with Iranian officials in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Nov. 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

VIENNA: The head of the UN atomic watchdog said Tuesday he still wants Iran to answer allegations of past nuclear weapons research despite no explicit mention of the issue in a new accord.

"The Iran nuclear issue is very complicated. We cannot expect that everything will come overnight, that is why we have taken a step-by-step approach," International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano said.

"All other issues that are not contained in the annex (to Monday's agreement) will be addressed in the subsequent steps," he said at Vienna airport after arriving back from Tehran.

The framework deal agreed Monday requires Iran to provide the IAEA within three months information on all new research reactors and to identify 16 sites designated for new nuclear power plants.

Tehran also undertook to clarify its previous announcements regarding additional uranium enrichment facilities and on laser enrichment activity within the same period.

The accord also states that Iran would provide "mutually agreed relevant information and managed access" to its Gachin uranium mine and to the heavy water production unit for its Arak reactor.

The reactor being built in Arak figured highly in talks between Iran and world powers in Geneva last week amid concerns that Iran could extract plutonium -- an alternative to uranium for a nuclear weapon -- from the spent fuel once it is working.

But the new agreement concerns only the heavy water production plant at the site.

The reactor site itself is already under IAEA surveillance, meaning that any attempt to get plutonium -- for which Iran would need a reprocessing facility -- would be noticed by the watchdog.

But the accord steers clear of detailing how and when Iran might address possible evidence highlighted by the IAEA that prior to 2003, and possibly since, Iran conducted research into how to make a nuclear weapon components.

Iran rejects the claims. For two years it has resisted IAEA requests to visit sites where these alleged activities took place as well as to consult documents and speak to Iranian scientists.

The sites include the Parchin military base where the IAEA wants to probe claims that scientists conducted tests of conventional explosives that it says would be "strong indicators of possible nuclear weapon development".

A new meeting with the IAEA is scheduled for December 11.

 

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