U.S. ready to take next step in Iran deal

The U.S. expressed its readiness after the IAEA published its long-awaited report

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The United States said Wednesday that it was ready to take the next step in implementing the Iran nuclear deal after an IAEA report on Tehran's weapons program.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that the U.N. watchdog had confirmed Washington’s long-standing allegation that Tehran had once been working on a nuclear bomb, but he added that Iran had cooperated adequately with IAEA investigators.

“The IAEA report is consistent with what the United States has long assessed with high confidence,” Toner told reporters.

“We made this public first in our 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, and that is that Iran had a nuclear weapons program that was halted in 2003.”

But, Toner said, now that the IAEA had been able to study the program and had found no evidence that it had continued beyond 2009, the United States was ready to move ahead.

“The IAEA has confirmed that Iran met its commitments to provide responses to IAEA requests under the roadmap for clarification of past and present issues,” he said.

Washington and the other members of the P5+1 contact group -- Britain, China, France and Russia, plus Germany -- will submit a motion to the IAEA board on Dec. 15 to close the issue of what has been called the “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s program.

“And then, after that, we can focus on implementing the JCPOA,” Toner said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreed between Iran and the P5+1 powers in July.

However, Israel said Wednesday that IAEA’s report shows the investigation of its activities should be intensified.

“Israel expects the international community to deepen its investigation... and use all the means at its disposal to ensure that Iran is unable to secretly build a nuclear weapon,” a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said.

Meanwhile, Iran said Wednesday it now considers the U.N. probe into allegations of past nuclear weapons research closed after a IAEA published its long-awaited report.

“It can be said that all measures regarding previous issues have been completely concluded and the PMD issue has been closed,” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told state television.

He was referring to the “possible military dimensions” of Iran's nuclear program, which has been long investigated by the agency.

Under the deal, Iran will scale back its nuclear enrichment program dramatically -- a program it has always maintained was for purely peaceful purposes -- and submit its nuclear sites to international inspection.

In return, outside powers will end some of the international sanctions that have severely squeezed the Iranian economy.

(With AP)

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