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Iran forges deal with IAEA

February 9, 2014

Iran has taken the first steps of an agreement with the UN's nuclear body over its controversial nuclear program. The country has agreed to supply information about detonators that could be used in weapons.

Iran nuclear energy
Image: AFP/Getty Images

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Sunday Iran had agreed to begin addressing concerns that it may have started working on a nuclear weapons program. The agency said Tehran was ready to "provide information and explanations" for experiments with a type of detonator the agency says could be used to trigger a nuclear explosion.

In a 2011 report, the IAEA had said the detonators have little purpose other than for nuclear weapons, and that "Iran's development of such detonators and equipment is a matter of concern."

Tehran has long insisted that its nuclear program is for peaceful, scientific purposes and that it has never attempted or wanted to seek a weapon.

Iran-IAEA cooperation

Supplying the detonator information is step seven of a broader cooperation that senior IAEA envoys forged with Iranian officials in Tehran over the weekend. A joint Iran-IAEA statement said the two sides held "constructive technical meetings" and that Tehran had already implemented six previous steps, including granting access to two nuclear-related sites.

Additional steps, which are to be completed by May 15, include providing inspectors access to the Saghand uranium mine and the Ardakan uranium ore milling plant. Iran will also share updated design plans about a proposed reactor the West has said could produce weapons material, as well as give details on the extraction of uranium from phosphates.

The IAEA, whose purpose is to prevent nuclear proliferation worldwide, has said it needs the information to get a better understanding of Iran's nuclear program. Their current investigation is to find out whether Tehran sought nuclear bomb technology in the past, and if it did, whether such work has been halted.

Iran has consistently denied the accusations about its nuclear program, but says it will work with the IAEA to clear up any "ambiguities."

Diplomatic settlement

The agreement to share the information with the agency comes ahead of negotiations between Iran and six world powers due to begin February 18. The talks are aimed at reaching a wider diplomatic settlement with Tehran.

A meeting in November with Iran and the six countries – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US – resulted in deal that curbs part of Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for the easing of certain sanctions.

Iran's implementation of its agreement with the IAEA is seen as a sign of how serious the country's new government is about easing concern over its nuclear ambitions.

dr/tj (AP, Reuters, dpa)