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IAEA Chief: Questions About Iran’s Past Nuclear Work Remain Unresolved

Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), revealed that Iran did not answer all questions about the possible military dimensions (PMD) of its past nuclear work, the Associated Press reported on Thursday.

The issue has dominated IAEA meetings, contributed to U.N. Security Council resolutions against Iran and is now playing a role in determining whether sanctions against Tehran will be lifted under a nuclear deal that is expected to be implemented early next year.

But the comments by IAEA chief Yukiya Amano made clear that his assessment will contain enough gray zones to leave the question unresolved.

The report “won’t be black and white,” Amano told reporters outside a meeting of the IAEA’s 35-nation board. Suggesting some questions remain unanswered, he described his report as a “jigsaw puzzle” for which his agency has “pieces.”

Amano made the comments while discussing his agency’s soon-to-be released report on Iran’s nuclear activities. The IAEA chief added that, rather than issuing a judgment on the nuclear program, it would be up to the agency’s board members to decide whether the Islamic Republic has complied with the terms of the deal, which is key to determining if nuclear-related sanctions on the regime will be lifted.

Although the nuclear deal (.pdf) calls on Iran “to address past and present issues of concern relating to its nuclear programme,” the AP reported that two diplomats familiar with the matter said that the world powers behind the agreement with Iran, including the United States, were unlikely to be too critical of the regime for fear of jeopardizing the deal.

In a statement to the IAEA’s board of governors about the report, Amano said, “we are not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.” This echoed an observation Amano made in January, when he revealed that the IAEA is “not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

A number of top Iranian officials have recently said that if the IAEA won’t end its claims of Iranian non-compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran would stop abiding by the terms of the deal.

Earlier this week, the U.S. State Department said the terms of the nuclear agreement were “non-binding” on Iran.

[Photo: IAEA Imagebank / Flickr ]