Iran Adhering to Interim Deal, Says New IAEA Report
Iran is sticking to a six-month nuclear freeze agreed under a November interim deal with world powers, the UN atomic agency said in a new report Thursday, AFP reported.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) update said that uranium enrichment to medium levels - the main concern to the international community - "is no longer taking place", as agreed in the deal.
The IAEA also said that a proportion of Iran's medium-enriched uranium stockpile, as set out in the November deal, which took effect on January 20, "is being downblended and the remainder is being converted to uranium oxide."
Enrichment to low purities however "continues at a rate of production similar to that indicated" in the last report from November, meaning that its stockpile of this material rose in the last three months.
This is consistent with the agreement with world powers, as long as by the end of the six-month period on July 20 the stockpile is not higher than at the start, noted AFP.
Iran is currently building a facility to convert this type of material to oxide form, the IAEA report said, from which it would be more difficult to enrich to weapons-grade.
In addition, Iran has not installed any additional uranium enrichment centrifuges at either of its facilities, Natanz and Fordo, according to the IAEA.
Regarding a reactor being constructed at Arak, the IAEA said, "No additional major components have been installed at this reactor and there has been no manufacture and testing of fuel for the reactor."
The agency also said Iran has provided it with a so-called Design Information Questionnaire (DIQ) for Arak, and that access was granted to centrifuge assembly workshops, centrifuge rotor production workshops and storage facilities.
Under the November deal, Iran committed to limit its uranium enrichment to five percent, halting production of 20 percent-enriched uranium. In return, the European Union and the United States have eased crippling economic sanctions on Iran.
The sides are now trying to negotiate a permanent deal. A meeting this week in Vienna was described as "constructive and useful."
Israel, which alongside Western nations suspects Iran of seeking a nuclear weapons capability, insisted that Thursday’s report proved once again that the interim agreement "did not address the military component of Iran's nuclear program."
"The report reiterates that the (IAEA) cannot confirm Iran's nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes," an Israeli government official said in a statement quoted by AFP.
And while sanctions have been significantly eased, "Iran has made no real concessions in its nuclear program," the official said.
Chief U.S. negotiator Wendy Sherman will head from Vienna to Israel to brief the government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the talks.
Netanyahu has repeatedly said that the agreement that was signed with Iran is dangerous and will allow Tehran to continue its nuclear program and give nothing back to the West while being rewarded with sanctions relief.
This position has placed the Netanyahu at odds with the U.S. administration, to the point where President Barack Obama reportedly told him to “take a breather” from his criticism and shift attention to the terms of the final deal still under negotiation.
The IAEA report also revealed for the first time that under hardline previous president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran had started but not finalized "preliminary site selection" for five new uranium enrichment facilities.
"This was something that happened under the previous president," a senior diplomat familiar with the agency's work said, describing it as a "very preliminary process."
In addition Iran told the IAEA that it had initiated a project for the identification of possible locations for new nuclear power plants and provided the agency with a list of 16 "preferred candidate areas", the report said.