Iran sticking to nuclear deal, says UN watchdog
VIENNA – Agence France-Presse
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation addresses a press conference with the Czech foreign minister on May 2, 2016, in Prague - AFP photoIran is still complying with the July 2015 landmark nuclear deal with major powers, a report from the U.N. atomic watchdog seen by AFP showed on May 27.
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s second quarterly assessment since the accord came into force on Jan. 16 showed that Iran was meeting its main commitments.
The report showed that Iran “has not pursued the construction of the existing Arak heavy water research reactor” and has “not enriched uranium” above low levels.
Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium, which is necessary for constructing a nuclear weapon, has not risen about the agreed level of 300 kilos.
The level of so-called heavy water has not exceeded the permitted level of 130 tons, as it did briefly during the previous reporting period. Verification by the IAEA has continued as agreed.
The IAEA added that “all stored centrifuges and associated infrastructure have remained in storage under continuous agency monitoring” and no enriched uranium has been accumulated through research and development activities.
The steps taken by Iran under the 2015 deal extend to at least a year the length of time Tehran would need to make one nuclear bomb’s worth of fissile material – up from a few months before the accord.
They included slashing by two-thirds its uranium centrifuges, cutting its stockpile of uranium – several tons before the deal, enough for several bombs – and removing the core of the Arak reactor which could have given Iran weapons-grade plutonium.
Centrifuges are machines that enrich uranium by increasing the proportion of a fissile isotope, rendering it suitable for other purposes.
Throughout the 12-year standoff that preceded the deal, Iran always denied wanting nuclear weapons, saying its activities were exclusively for peaceful purposes such as power generation.
In return for the scaling down of its nuclear activities, painful U.N. and Western sanctions were lifted on the Islamic republic, including on its lifeblood, oil exports.
Iran, however, has complained that major powers have been slow to implement their side of the bargain, with badly needed foreign investment into the country proving slower than hoped.
The United States has maintained its sanctions targeting Tehran’s alleged sponsorship of armed movements in the Middle East and its ballistic missile program.
European banks, which often have subsidiaries on U.S. soil, have therefore been slow to resume business with Iran, fearing prosecution in the United States.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on May 21 called on Washington to take “more serious and concrete actions” to alleviate the situation.