IAEA: Iran is Failing to Answer Questions

UN's atomic agency's new report says Iran is failing to answer questions about its nuclear program, weeks before a deadline for a deal.

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Ben Ariel, Canada,

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Reuters

Iran is failing to answer questions about its nuclear program just weeks before a deadline for a deal with world powers, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says in a new report seen Friday by the BBC.

The IAEA says Iran is complying with an agreement to curb uranium enrichment, but also notes it has made no progress in its investigation into possible military dimensions of the program.

Iran had promised to further co-operate with the IAEA following the election of President Hassan Rouhani last year in a bid to ease Western sanctions.

The IAEA conducts regular inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities but it also wants the country's government to address allegations of suspected covert activity.

In May, Iran agreed to provide information on two out of around a dozen areas of suspicion by August, but the IAEA says it is yet to receive answers.

"Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures," the report says, according to the BBC.

Just a week ago, IAEA director Yukiya Amano revealed that Iran is refusing to answer questions about whether or not its nuclear program has included activities to build a nuclear bomb.

Amano said at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC that his agency is waiting for information on "possible military dimensions," which Rouhani has promised to deliver - and never gotten around to doing.

"What is needed now is action," said Amano, enumerating a list of around a dozen issues that Iran has refused to elaborate on for years.

"We cannot provide assurance that all material is for peaceful purposes," admitted the IAEA head. "The international community still has its doubts - it still wants clarification. That inquiry process will depend on Iran's level of cooperation."

Amano’s comments, as well as the IAEA’s report, come ahead of weekend talks in Oman between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and former EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Iran and the six world powers have a deadline of November 24 to strike a landmark nuclear deal.

Months of intense negotiations, including between Kerry and Zarif in mid-October in Vienna, have made some progress but appear deadlocked on the key issues of uranium enrichment and the pace of any sanctions relief.

Iran, meanwhile, has been toughening its stance in recent weeks. Senior Iranian negotiator Abbas Araqchi recently said he sees no prospect for a deal unless the other side abandons its “illogical excessive demands”.

A senior Iranian official followed those comments by declaring that Iran will demand that all Western sanctions be lifted as part of a final deal, rejecting an American proposal of a gradual lifting of sanctions.

The size of Iran’s centrifuge inventory is a key sticking point in deal talks, with experts saying that the total centrifuge count is close to 10,000. 

Iran, for its part, has drawn a "red line" at maintaining enough centrifuges to produce enough uranium for 38 A-bombs per year

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)