IAEA says "good progress" being made in Iran nuclear talks
A senior official from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has hailed “good” progress in talks with Iran over its nuclear energy program.
“Since November everything has gone as planned,” said IAEA Deputy Director General for Safeguards Tero Tapio Varjoranta after returning from Iran on Monday, describing the progress in cooperation with Tehran as “good.”
Varjoranta made the remarks a day after Tehran and the IAEA reached an agreement on seven practical measures to be implemented by Tehran as voluntary measures by 15 May, 2014. The two sides also reviewed progress on the implementation of the six initial practical measures that were agreed upon in November.
Varjoranta, who led the UN nuclear agency’s delegation of inspectors in Tehran, further said the agreement on the seven-step plan is “the first step that is taking place now,” adding, “There are still a lot of outstanding issues.”
Iran and the IAEA signed a joint statement in November 2013 to outline a roadmap on mutual cooperation on certain outstanding nuclear issues. Under the deal, Iran agreed, on a voluntary basis, to allow IAEA inspectors to visit the Arak heavy water plant and the Gachin uranium mine in the south of Iran.
The IAEA inspectors visited the Arak heavy water plant on December 8, 2013 as the first step in mutual cooperation under the Iran-IAEA agreement. The IAEA inspectors also made a five-hour visit to the Gachin uranium mine in late January.
The agency's safeguards agreement does not require Tehran to authorize IAEA inspections of those sites. The voluntary move is a goodwill gesture on the part of Iran to clear up ambiguities over the peaceful nature of its nuclear energy program.