Iran hints at wider nuclear inspections

Updated: 2013-10-17 07:25

By Agencies in Geneva and Teheran (China Daily)

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Three-phase plan presented as West presses for concrete action

Iran's top negotiator said on Wednesday that a nuclear proposal presented to major powers in Geneva does allow for snap inspections of the country's nuclear facilities, correcting his earlier remarks.

"None of these issues exist in the first step, but they are part of our last step," Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA.

He was replying to a question about whether the application of the additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which allows unannounced inspections of Iran's nuclear sites, was included in the proposal.

Araqchi had on Tuesday been cited by IRNA as saying the implementation of the protocol "does not exist" in the offer.

The additional protocol allows reinforced and unannounced inspections of a country's nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency and requires that information be provided on all activities regarding the nuclear fuel cycle.

As it stands now, Iran is only obliged to inform the IAEA three months ahead of transferring fissile material into the nuclear site.

Iran, a signatory of the treaty, voluntarily implemented the additional protocol between 2003 and 2005 but ceased to apply it after its nuclear case was sent to the United Nations Security Council.

Iran hints at wider nuclear inspections

Araqchi's comments appeared to be the first specific indication of what concessions Teheran might be prepared to make in return for the removal of sanctions hurting its oil-dependent economy.

Western diplomats stressed they wanted Teheran to back up newly conciliatory language with concrete action by agreeing to scale back its enrichment of uranium and take verifiable steps to show it is not covertly trying to develop the means to produce nuclear bombs.

Iran presented a three-phase plan for ending the standoff over its nuclear program during the first day of a two-day meeting that started on Tuesday with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany in Geneva on Tuesday.

Araqchi said the first phase is expected to last six months. It is aimed at "restoring bilateral trust" and "avoiding measures which could aggravate the (political) climate".

He said it would take "several rounds of negotiations" to reach an agreement.

The six nations - the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, China and Russia - have long demanded that Iran implement the protocol.

They also want Iran to scale back its uranium enrichment program and suspend higher-level activity.

Refined uranium can be used to fuel nuclear power plants, Iran's stated aim, but can also provide the fissile core of a nuclear bomb if processed further.

AFP - Reuters

(China Daily 10/17/2013 page12)