VIENNA: Iran has sharply reduced its most sensitive nuclear stockpile in implementing an interim pact with world powers and has begun engaging with a long-stalled IAEA investigation into suspected atom bomb research, the U.N. nuclear agency said on Friday.
The findings, in a quarterly report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, are likely to be welcomed by the six powers that are trying to negotiate a long-term deal with iran on ending a decade-old dispute over its nuclear programme.
iran rejects Western allegations that it has been trying to develop the capability to build nuclear weapons.
The monthly update by IAEA, which has a pivotal role in verifying that iran is living up to its part of the six-month accord reached in November, made clear that iran so far is undertaking the agreed steps to curb its nuclear programme.
As a result, it is gradually gaining access to some previously blocked overseas funds, under the interim accord that was struck with the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Britain and China in November.
Under the breakthrough half-year agreement that took effect on Jan. 20, iran halted some aspects of its nuclear programme in exchange for a limited easing of international sanctions that have laid low the major oil producer's economy. It was designed to buy time for talks on a permanent settlement.
The IAEA report showed that iran since January had acted to reduce its stockpile of higher-grade enriched uranium gas - a relatively short technical step away from weapons-grade material - by more than 80 percent.