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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid