|Iran-IAEA talks not advancing enough, France claims||
Despite the fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed in its recent reports that Iran is fully cooperating with the UN nuclear agency, France claimed on Tuesday that Iran is cooperating “too slowly” with a UN watchdog investigation into its nuclear activities.
The IAEA said on Friday that Iran had cut its stockpile of uranium enriched to a purity level of 20 percent by around 80 percent under an interim pact agreed in November with the major powers and had seriously engaged with the agency’s inquiry.
Iran’s discussions with the IAEA are separate from, but closely linked to, its talks with the powers, on the country’s nuclear program.
“(The IAEA report) shows that Iran is respecting its commitments according to the Geneva agreement,” French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said, referring to last year’s pact under which Tehran scaled back parts of its nuclear program in exchange for some easing of sanctions.
“That is indispensable for talks to reach a long-term agreement between the six and Iran,” he said, according to Reuters.
The November accord was designed to buy time for talks on a final accord to end the decade-old dispute over Iran’s nuclear activities that Tehran says are peaceful but the West claims may be aimed at developing a nuclear weapons capability.
Those talks began in February and are meant to hammer out an agreement by a self-imposed July 20 deadline.
However, Nadal said Iran’s “cooperation with the IAEA on a possible military dimension (to its nuclear program) is progressing too slowly despite the agency’s repeated efforts.”
U.S. officials say it is vital for Iran to answer IAEA questions if Washington and the five other powers are to reach a broader nuclear settlement.
Paris has long held out for strict terms in talks, in which it and Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States are contemplating a further easing of economic sanctions if they can reach an agreement with Iran.
“Concrete results (in the IAEA-Iran talks) are indispensable before the possible finalization of a long-term agreement,” Nadal said. “More needs to be done between now and July.”
The election last year of pragmatist Hassan Rouhani as new president paved the way for a thaw and a diplomatic breakthrough between Iran and the West in November.
But the sides remain far apart on what a final settlement should look like, especially concerning Iran’s capacity to refine uranium.
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