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IAEA, Iran Agree On Nuclear Cooperation

Source: RFE/RL; photos by Mostafa Ghotbi, Islamic Republic News Agency

The United Nations' atomic watchdog says it has signed a joint statement with Iran on future cooperation to resolve remaining nuclear issues. The agreement opens the way for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to visit Iran's Arak heavy-water site and Gachin uranium mine and for measures requested by the agency to be implemented.

Iranian Atomic Energy Organization head Ali Akbar Salehi (left) shakes hands with IAEA Director Yukiya Amano talk in Tehran.

IAEA head Yukiya Amano told a news conference in Tehran that the "practical measures will be implemented in the next three months, starting from [November 11]."

The Arak heavy-water reactor in central Iran, which reports say could be operational by the end of next year, is of particular concern for the international community.

Amano said his negotiations were "independent" of those that Iran has been holding with the six world powers, known as the P5+1, in Geneva. They are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain, and France, plus Germany.

Amano, who last visited Iran in May 2012, said the process between Iran and the IAEA has reached a "very important point."

The IAEA is seeking access to Iranian facilities, documents, and officials as part of a probe into alleged nuclear weapons research by Iran.


Iranian authorities have resisted granting the IAEA access to everything the agency wants. But analysts have said Tehran, following the election of moderate President Hassan Rohani, may be willing to make some concessions on its nuclear program in exchange for an easing of years of international economic sanctions.

The sanctions have led to a reduction of Iranian oil exports, which are vital for Iran's economy, and restricted Iran's ability to conduct international banking transactions.

Iran denies allegations from Western countries that it is trying to develop a nuclear-weapons capability.

Facing criticism from some Iranian hard-liners over the Geneva talks, Rohani on November 10 vowed that Iran would not surrender its international legal right to some nuclear development, such as uranium enrichment.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry denied that disagreement among world powers thwarted a nuclear deal with Iran last week in Geneva.

Amid reports that France's reservations sank the deal, Kerry told reporters on November 11 in Abu Dhabi that the major powers presented a united front but that the Iranians were unable to accept the offer "at that particular moment."

Kerry said he hoped a deal could be completed within months, and he was confident such an agreement would protect U.S. ally Israel.

More talks between Iran and six world powers are expected on November 20.

Based on reporting by AFP, dpa, BBC, and Reuters

Copyright (c) 2013 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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