Breakthrough in Iran talks

11 November 2013

Iran has said it will cooperate on resolving "all outstanding issues" that the International Atomic Energy Agency has concerning its nuclear program. Access is to be granted to heavy water facilities and the Gachin uranium mine.

A joint statement issued today by the country and the IAEA foresaw that Iran would provide more information about its nuclear facilities and implement measures to increase transparency.

IAEA director general Yukiya Amano signed the joint statement, while for Iran the signatory was Ali Akhbar Salehi. As returning head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran as well as vice-President of the country, he embodies the new approach to international issues apparently taken by President Hassan Rouhani. The Fars news agency quoted Salehi as saying the concessions were "a voluntary measure adopted by the permission of the Supreme National Security Council to show Iran's goodwill."

The outstanding issues primarily relate to two main areas: One is the design and ongoing construction of the IR-40 heavy water reactor at Arak. The IAEA has complained several times that it has not been given full information on the unit's design, and this makes it hard to give assurance it is for peaceful purposes only. The agency has also been denied access to associated facilities to produce heavy water and fuel.

Another area the IAEA wants answers is on a range of other research activities alleged in a set of documents given to the IAEA by ten governments. These concern potential work on missile modification, high explosive research and underground testing of some kind which could form part of a program for nuclear weapons. The IAEA has said it would not be able to give assurance to the world without more cooperation from Iran, notably access to the Parchin military facility. Today's joint statement said the IAEA had "agreed to take into account Iran's security concerns including through the use of managed access and the protection of confidential information."

These areas for clarity are largely distinct from the main two areas of nuclear activity underway in Iran: uranium enrichment and power generation. Currently there are two uranium enrichment plants and one conversion plant, while a power reactor operates at Bushehr with involvement from Russian experts. All of these are under safeguards administered by the IAEA.

Cooperation is to come step-by-step, said the statement. Initial subjects for openness and managed access were listed as the Gachin uranium mine, the heavy water production plant, all new research reactors, the 16 sites Iran has designated for construction of nuclear power units, the ten sites designated for uranium enrichment, and clarification on statements made about laser enrichment.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News

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