Deal Reached On Probe Of Iran’s Nuclear Program, IAEA Chief Says

A deal has been agreed to that will facilitate international monitors’ effort to investigate whether Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency told reporters in Vienna earlier today.

The Financial Times puts the news this way:

“Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said on Tuesday that he had reached a deal with Iran on investigating Tehran’s suspected nuclear weapons program. The head of the U.N. body said a ‘decision was made to conclude and sign the agreement. . . . I can say it will be signed quite soon.’ “

As the Los Angeles Times adds, “inspectors have been trying to gain wider access to Iranian atomic facilities.” And if this deal is finalized, it would be “the first time since 2007 that Iran, which says its nuclear work is for exclusively peaceful purposes, has accepted wider inspections.”

The Financial Times‘ James Blitz, in an analysis of this news, says that Amano has “always taken a hard-headed approach towards Iran in the three years he has headed the United Nations nuclear watchdog. … So if Mr. Amano says he is about to sign a deal with Iran under which the regime starts answering those questions that is significant. It suggests that Mr Amano believes Iran will genuinely start to co-operate with the IAEA for the first time in four years – possibly giving access to sites where western intelligence agencies believe weapons work has been done.”

Reuters notes that Amano, who had just arrived in Vienna after talks with Iranian officials in Tehran, was “speaking on the eve of the Baghdad meeting where six powers will test Iranian willingness to put transparent limits on its nuclear program,” and that “Amano said his wish for access to an Iranian military site where nuclear weapons-relevant tests may have occurred would be addressed as part of the accord.”

But the wire service also says “the powers will be wary of past failures to carry out extra inspection deals between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran, and Western patience is wearing thin.”

The six powers, known as the P5+1 are the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — China, France, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S. — and Germany.

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