|Iran nuclear deal being implemented as planned: Amano||
TEHRAN – A landmark nuclear deal between Iran and the six major powers is being implemented as planned but much remains to be done to resolve all issues regarding Tehran’s nuclear program, Reuters quoted the UN nuclear chief as saying on Monday.
“The measures implemented by Iran, and the further commitments it has undertaken, represent a positive step forward, but much remains to be done to resolve all outstanding issues,” Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told a meeting of the IAEA’s 35-nation Board of Governors, according to a copy of his speech.
Iran struck an interim deal with the United States, France, Russia, Germany, Britain and China on November 24 in Geneva to scale down its nuclear program in exchange for some easing of sanctions, and it took effect on January 20.
The accord was designed to buy time for negotiations on a final settlement of the decade-old stand-off over nuclear activity that Iran says is peaceful but the West claims may be directed toward developing a nuclear bomb capability.
Those talks began in Vienna last month and are due to resume on March 17, also in the Austrian capital. The aim is to hammer out a long-term agreement by late July, though the deadline can be extended by six months if both sides agree.
Expert-level talks between the sides are also scheduled to be held in Vienna from March 5 to 7.
Amano said that Iran is reducing the stockpile of its enriched uranium to a purity level of 20 percent as required by the Geneva deal.
He indicated that Iran had made sufficient progress in this regard to receive a scheduled March 1 installment of $450 million out of a total of $4.2 billion in previously blocked overseas funds.
The IAEA is tasked with checking that Iran is living up to its part of the six-month accord.
“As of today, measures agreed under the Joint Plan of Action are being implemented as planned,” Amano said, referring to the interim nuclear deal.
These included “the dilution of a proportion of Iran’s inventory” of 20 percent uranium gas to a lower enrichment level, which “has reached the halfway mark,” he said.
Under the accord, Iran suspended enrichment of uranium to 20 percent fissile concentration and is taking action to neutralize its holding of the material.
In return, Iran is gradually winning access to $4.2 billion of its oil revenues frozen abroad and some other sanctions relief. The funds will be paid out in eight transfers on a schedule that started with a $550 million payment by Japan on February 1.
Last month, banking sources said South Korea was set to make two payments in March totaling $1 billion.
The March 1 installment depended on Iran following a schedule for diluting part of its stockpile, which Amano’s comment suggested it now had. But it was not immediately clear if the funds had already been transferred to Iran.
Amano also said clarification of all issues related to the possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program is “essential”.
In addition, Amano said 17 IAEA member states had so far expressed interest in contributing extra-budgetary funds to help finance the agency’s extra workload in monitoring the implementation of the Geneva agreement in Iran, but that more was needed. “We are still short of some €1.6 million ($2.21 million),” he said.
The UN agency said in January it needed about 5.5 million euros from member states to pay for its increased activities in Iran. This would cover more inspectors sent to Iran and the purchase of specialized surveillance-related equipment.
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