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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs