London, 3 July – The head of the UN nuclear agency, tasked with monitoring Iran’s nuclear activities, is suggesting that a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has done little to advance his probe of alleged work by Tehran on an atomic weapon.
Yukiya Amano of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Friday “more work will be needed” to kick-start the investigation. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani continues to deny the allegations, reflecting the stalemate that has stretched to nearly a decade.
Rouhani said after Thursday’s meeting with Amano that the agency now understands that the “pointless allegations” are “baseless”.
Amano, the IAEA’s director general, on Thursday also met the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, in Tehran.
The United States and its allies says the IAEA must deliver a ruling on the suspicions based on Iranian cooperation, as part of the overall nuclear deal now being negotiated between Iran and six world powers.
“The purpose of the visit was to advance work towards the resolution of all outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear program, including clarification of possible military dimensions”, Amano said in a statement.
The IAEA in 2011 released a major report on the “possible military dimensions” (PMD) of Iran’s programme, saying that the wealth of information made available to it was “credible”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Rouhani plan to meet in Russia’s city of Ufa next week, a Kremlin spokesman said.
Russia holds the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit in the city of Ufa on July 9. Iran is an observer to the organization.
Negotiators from the P5+1 countries – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – and Iran are in Vienna trying to strike a deal whereby Tehran would curb parts of its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Tuesday was the official deadline to reach a long-term deal that would build on the preliminary agreement in Lausanne, but the seven countries have agreed to extend the deadline until 7 July to allow more time for negotiations.
Diplomats have said the real deadline is 9 July, the latest the deal can be presented to the US Congress to limit to 30 days a mandatory review period before Obama can begin suspending sanctions. After that, the review would last 60 days, with growing risks a deal could unravel.
US President Barack Obama warned Iran on Tuesday that there would be no nuclear deal if Tehran does not agree to “serious, rigorous” inspections of its facilities.
“The goal of the nuclear negotiations is not to rely on trust, but to set up a verifiable mechanism where we are cutting off the pathways for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon”, Obama said.
Iran’s main opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), last week published a 28-page report stating that Iran has been trying to keep its nuclear infrastructure intact and retain the capability to produce a nuclear weapon. It said Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had put red lines for international inspectors having access to Iranian military sites and nuclear scientists and any halt to nuclear Research and Development (R&D).
The NCRI, the group which first blew the whistle on Iran’s secret uranium enrichment and heavy-water sites in 2002, on Wednesday also warned that without “complete unrestricted access” to international inspectors to monitor Iranian military facilities, Iran could not be trusted to abide by the terms of the international agreement.
It published a partial list of Iranian nuclear sites that it had exposed and which Tehran had previously kept secret.
Based in part on wire reports