News / Middle East

Iran Deal Near, Says IAEA

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Yukiya Amano, center, speaks to the media after returning from Iran at the Vienna International Airport, Austria, May 22, 2012.
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Yukiya Amano, center, speaks to the media after returning from Iran at the Vienna International Airport, Austria, May 22, 2012.
Selah HennessyMichael Lipin
The head of the United Nations nuclear agency says he expects Iran to sign an agreement "quite soon" to allow inspections of facilities suspected of being used in a covert nuclear-weapons program.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano made the comment Tuesday after returning to Vienna from a brief visit to Iran, where he met chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.  Amano said he and Jalili made a "decision to reach an agreement" on U.N. access to Iranian sites including the Parchin military complex.

Nuclear facilities and sites in Iran.Nuclear facilities and sites in Iran.
x
Nuclear facilities and sites in Iran.
Nuclear facilities and sites in Iran.
Western powers suspect Iran has engaged in atomic weapons research at the site.  Tehran says Parchin is a conventional weapons facility and insists the Iranian nuclear program is peaceful.

White House spokesman Jay Carney called the announcement a "step forward," but said Washington would "make judgments about Iran's behavior based on actions, not just promises or agreements."

Israel sees a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to its existence and refuses to rule out military action against the Iranian nuclear program.

Israel sees false progress

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak accused Iran of trying to create a false impression of progress with the IAEA before nuclear talks with six world powers Wednesday in Baghdad.  He said Iran is trying to reduce international pressure to make nuclear concessions and wants to postpone any intensification of sanctions by the foreign powers.

The six-nation group is trying to negotiate a separate agreement with Iran on stopping Iranian production of highly-enriched uranium that could be converted quickly to nuclear-bomb material.

Barak urged the six-nation group to leave "no window or crack" for Iran to reach a military nuclear capability, saying any international concessions on the issue must be "forbidden."

He raised the possibility of allowing Iran to keep what he called a "symbolic" amount of low-enriched uranium but only under "strict" international supervision.  Israel is widely believed to be the only nuclear-armed nation in the Middle East.

Amano: differences remain

Amano said some differences remain between the IAEA and Iran on the inspections issue and he is not sure when they will be resolved.  But, he also said Jalili assured him those differences will not be an obstacle to a deal.  It is not clear how Amano's apparent progress will affect the Baghdad negotiations on Iran's uranium enrichment.

Executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association Daryl Kimball told VOA the IAEA suspects Iran used the Parchin complex prior to 2004 to conduct nuclear-weapon related experiments and wants to know if those experiments have continued.

"The problem has been over the last few months that Iran was trying to limit the IAEA's access to these sites and some [Iranian nuclear] officials," Kimball said.  "And the IAEA quite rightly was refusing to be restricted and limited so that it can follow through on any leads that its investigation may turn up."

Acting U.S. envoy to the IAEA Robert Wood said Washington remains "concerned" by what he called Iran's "urgent obligation" to cooperate fully with the U.N. nuclear agency in resolving suspicions about the nature of the Iranian nuclear program.  The United States also has refused to rule out a strike on Iran to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Iran claims nuclear milestone

In a separate development, Iran's state-run IRNA news agency said Tuesday the national atomic energy organization has delivered domestically-made nuclear fuel to a research reactor in Tehran for the first time.  The report said two batches of the fuel were sent to the site and one was loaded into the reactor, but gave no time frame.  There was no independent confirmation of the development.

Western diplomats and analysts have said the Iranian government sometimes exaggerates its nuclear progress to try to improve its bargaining position with world powers and strengthen its domestic support.

London-based nuclear energy expert Malcolm Grimston of Chatham House said the only way for Iran to prove that its nuclear program is peaceful is to accept international offers of enriched uranium for legitimate uses such as the research reactor and power plants.

Iranian leaders also would have to "dismantle the technology that allows them to take [enrichment] further up to weapons-grade," Grimston said.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid