The Obama administration appeared to be backtracking on another demand laid forth in the interim agreement between Iran and world powers in Switzerland in April, this time on addressing the International Atomic Energy Agency’s concerns over the possible military dimensions of Iran’s previous nuclear work before a comprehensive deal is reached.
“The Iranians … will have to reach agreement with the IAEA on providing the necessary access to address the concerns about the possible military dimensions of their program,” said State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke on Friday.
Rathke denied that the Obama administration had walked back on its demand that Iran address those concerns before reaching a deal, which faces a June 30 deadline, over lifting sanctions, saying Iran only had to “agree to provide access.”
“Our position on the possible military dimensions issue and the necessity of Iran working with the IAEA, that position remains the same and hasn’t changed,” he claimed, adding that he was not free to disclose whether the Iranians would be compelled to address the IAEA’s concern regarding previous military work in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.
On Thursday, the Associated Press first reported that U.S. and Western officials had backed off on the requirement that Iran disclose all information regarding its past nuclear work before world powers would accept a deal.
Secretary of State John Kerry said in April that the U.S. would not accept a deal unless Iran addresses all of the IAEA’s concerns regarding the previous military dimensions of its nuclear program.
“No. They have to do it. It will be done. If there’s going to be a deal, it will be done,” Kerry told PBS news.
Meanwhile, Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, Reza Najafi, said on Friday that Tehran rejected “baseless and void accusations carried under the title of PMDs,” the acronym for the possible military dimensions clause.
He said the IAEA was being “fed with wrong information,” and invited nuclear inspectors to the Mariwan nuclear site questioned in a recent report.
According to semi-official Iranian state news agency Fars, the PMD issue has been “a persistent bone of contention in the talks between Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog,” which are separate but simultaneous with the political talks between Iran and six world powers, including the U.S.
The EU last Thursday cautioned Iran to cooperate with the stalled IAEA probe of its military sites, warning a deal was not possible otherwise.
Iran’s leaders, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have sought limitations to the purview of international inspectors’ reach among Iran’s military sites. Iran insists it has never sought a nuclear weapon as part of its program, based in part on a religious edict by Khamenei himself.
IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said it could take “years and years” of inspections before Iran could restore full confidence that its military never intended to build a nuclear bomb.
Amano said the IAEA was prepared to “accelerate the resolution of all outstanding issues.”