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US Official Criticizes Iran, IAEA Deal on Nuclear Program


A senior U.S. official has criticized the deal Iran reached with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on a timetable for Tehran to answer questions about its controversial nuclear program.

Gregory Schulte - the head of the U.S. delegation to the IAEA - said Wednesday in Vienna that the pact has "real limitations," and does not allow for wider inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities.

Schulte said Iran is "clearly trying to take attention" from its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons capabilities. He added this will not prevent the United Nations Security Council from taking additional punitive measures against Iran.

Tuesday, IAEA Deputy Director Olli Heinonen and Iranian nuclear negotiator Javad Vaeedi announced the agreement on the timetable, but did not provide details.

IAEA is due to present a report on Iran to the Security Council next month.

The Security Council has imposed two sets of sanctions on Iran for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to make nuclear weapons.

The United States and its allies accuse Iran of seeking to build atomic weapons under the cover of a civilian program to generate electric power. Iran denies the charge.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.