The UN's nuclear chief says he doesn’t know when his agency's investigation into Iran will finish. A deadline is looming this month for a framework deal between Iran and world powers on the country’s nuclear program.
On Monday, the International Atomic Energy Agency head doubted that an investigation would conclude before the deadline of a deal between Iran and the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany. The P5+1, five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, have negotiated with Iran since 2006.
"It depends on the level and pace of cooperation from Iran," International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano said on Monday. "I cannot tell by when." He added: "We have asked questions and the questions are clear, so they can answer."
Amano's comments came as US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that public discussion of select details of the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran would make it more difficult to reach a deal that prevents the country from developing atomic weapons. In comments to reporters in Geneva on Monday, Kerry said he had become "concerned by reports" that someone could reveal "selective details" of the talks in the coming days.
Kerry did not elaborate, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak in opposition to a deal in an address to the US Congress on Tuesday. The secretary of state's comments come also after an official said that the Israeli government knew about the emerging agreement and that the prime minister would elaborate in his congressional address. Netanyahu was invited to address the legislature by John Boehner, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives.
'Clock is ticking'
The P5+1 have until March 31 to reach a deal, which the nations would sign on June 30. Led by Netanyahu, however, some Israeli officials have publicly worried that the deal would ease sanctions on Iran without applying sufficiently stringent safeguards against the country's developing an atomic bomb. In February, international media leaked a report by Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, according to which officials did not believe, as their prime minister does, that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon.
"The best way to deal with the question surrounding this nuclear program is to find a comprehensive deal, but not a deal which comes at any costs," Kerry told reporters on Monday. "We have made some progress, but we still have a long way to go, and the clock is ticking."
Kerry planned to meet his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in the Swiss lakeside town of Montreux on Monday for talks on the agreement. The secretary of state had admitted last week that "significant gaps" remained in negotiations.
mkg/jil (Reuters, AFP, AP)