Iran disputes U.N. finding that it worked on nuclear arms

But both Iran and the international community are eager to put the issue behind them to implement a landmark nuclear deal

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Iran has rejected an assessment by the U.N. nuclear agency that it did past work on nuclear arms but is praising some aspects of the agency’s investigation of the issue, reflecting satisfaction that the more than decade-long probe has ended.

Closure of the file means that some questions about the alleged weapons work may never be resolved. Before the 35-nation board of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency adopted a resolution last month ending the investigation, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano told the meeting that his investigation couldn’t “reconstruct all the details of activities conducted by Iran in the past.”

But both Iran and the international community are eager to put the issue behind them in order to be able to implement a landmark nuclear deal that commits Tehran to significant limits on its nuclear activities for over a decade in exchange for relief from crippling economic sanctions.

Implementation day will come once the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency certifies that Iran has fulfilled its commitments, and diplomats on Monday told The Associated Press that could happen within a week. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to comment on the process.

Iran’s Fars news agency reported a key step toward that goal, saying that technicians have dismantled the core of the Arak heavy water reactor on Monday and filled it with concrete.

The probe had to be formally ended as part of the July 14 nuclear agreement. The IAEA board closed the books on the investigation last month, even though Amano repeated an assessment he made in his final report on the issue in November that Iran worked on “a range of activities relevant” to making nuclear weapons, with coordinated efforts up to 2003 tapering off into scattered activities into 2009.

Iran’s rejoinder, dated Jan. 7 and posted on the IAEA’s website, will neither affect Amano’s finding nor delay implementation of the deal, but its low-key language in disagreement with the agency assessment is in contrast to past bitter recriminations both against the IAEA and against the U.S., which has been among Tehran’s most vehement critics for its alleged past weapons work.

The Iranian note rejected Amano’s assessment that an “organizational structure” worked on nuclear arms. It also said that any Iranian interest in “dual-use technologies have always been for peaceful civilian or conventional military uses” and not to develop an atomic bomb.

The communication repeated arguments Iran has used for years — that documents playing a role in the agency’s conclusions were forged by Iran’s adversaries.

At the same time, it praised the “tremendous work” not only by Iranian and but also agency officials that led to the IAEA final report and an end to the probe.

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