Iran has invited inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit a nuclear heavy water facility, the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog announced today.
“I can inform the Board that we have received an invitation from Iran to visit the Heavy Water Production Plant at Arak on 8 December,” Director General Yukiya Amano told the Agency's Board of Governors at a meeting in Vienna updating the body on the IAEA's work on nuclear verification, safety, security and the peaceful use of nuclear technologies.
“All other outstanding issues, including those raised in my previous reports to the Board, will be addressed in subsequent steps,” he said, recalling that on 11 November, he had signed a Joint Statement on a Framework for Cooperation with Iran.
Under the Framework, Iran and the Agency agreed “to strengthen their cooperation and dialogue aimed at ensuring the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme through the resolution of all outstanding issues.” Iran committed itself under the Framework to implementing six practical measures within three months.
Iran's nuclear programme – which its officials have stated is for peaceful purposes, but some other countries contend is driven by military ambitions – has been a matter of international concern since the discovery in 2003 that the country had concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The IAEA chief's comments come on the heels of a diplomatic breakthrough earlier the week following a separate announcement that Iran had reached an interim agreement with six other UN Member States regarding its nuclear activities.
“I have received a letter from European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton, on behalf of China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States, concerning the Joint Plan of Action agreed with Iran on 24 November in Geneva,” Mr. Amano told the Board.
He said the letter states that “the IAEA will have an important role in the verification of the nuclear-related measures” which were agreed in Geneva.
“I welcome the Joint Plan of Action. We are now looking at the way in which the elements of the agreement relevant to the Agency could be put into practice,” he said, noting that this will include the implications for funding and staffing.
“This analysis will take some time. I will consult the Board as soon as possible when it has been completed,” he added.