The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has decided to close its decade-long probe into Iran's nuclear weapons program. Hailing a "historic day," Tehran said it was ready to "accelerate" a key deal struck in July.
The 35-nation board of the IAEA formally concluded investigations on whether Iran sought atomic weapons on Tuesday. The resolution passed a vote in Vienna, after being proposed by permanent UN Security Council members Russia, China, the US, Britain and France, plus Germany (the so-called "P5+1" that has led international nuclear negotiations with Iran).
The move came two weeks after a report by the UN watchdog suggested the country once had a secret nuclear program, but found no evidence of weapons-related activities beyond 2009.
"The Agency assesses that a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device were conducted in Iran prior to the end of 2003 as a coordinated effort, and some activities took place after 2003," IAEA Director Yukiyo Amano told reporters in Viennaat the time. However, these activities "did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies," he said.
"Today is a historic day," Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Reza Najafi told reporters. The US' ambassador to the UN nuclear body, Henry Ensher, said the report was "an important milestone," but that trust would be regained only after Iran implemented the steps under the agreement signed in July.
"The IAEA's verification and monitoring of these commitments is vital to ensuring that Iran's nuclear program is and remains exclusively peaceful," Ensher said in Vienna. IAEA chief Amano also noted that the Iran issue had a "long and complex history" and that "the legacy of mistrust between Iran and the international community must be overcome."
Iran's Najafi said his country was ready to implement restrictions on its nuclear activities. "We are intending to complete this process within two to three weeks, so accelerate the implementation day as soon as possible," Najafi told Reuters news agency.
Parties to honor commitment
Tuesday's resolution was Iran's "final step" under the "roadmap for the clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran's nuclear program," Amano told journalists. The country would now have to complete necessary preparations to start implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed by Iran and the P5+1 countries this July.
However, Amano said much remained to be done and all parties needed to fully implement their commitments under the JCPOA. "Considerable effort was required in order to reach this agreement. A similar and sustained effort will be required to implement it," Amano said in his official statement to the press.
mg/msh (Reuters, dpa, AFP)