Iran expects IAEA nuclear report on Friday, minister says
Iran and EU might issue a joint statement on Saturday
Iran expects the International Atomic Energy Agency to issue a “final” report on Friday confirming the Islamic republic has met all its obligations under its nuclear deal with world powers, an Iranian minister was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
Under the terms of the agreement, known as the JCPOA, international sanctions against Iran will be lifted once the IAEA, the Vienna-based U.N. nuclear watchdog, confirms Iran has restricted its nuclear program.
“The IAEA will issue its final report on Friday to confirm Iran has met its commitments under the JCPOA,” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said, according to the Fars news agency.
The IAEA declined to comment on the report.
A report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog saying Iran has kept its promises under the nuclear deal is a crucial precondition for sanctions relief to kick in. The IAEA will, however, continue to regularly report to its member states on Iran.
“What we’re expecting is that the IAEA final report will be able to say that Iran is in compliance,” said a senior western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Our expectation is that (the report would be submitted) at some point either right at the end of this week or at some point next week,” he said.
Under the agreement reached in July last year, Tehran promised to reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium to below 300 kg (660 pounds), cut the number of its installed uranium-enriching centrifuges to around 6,100 from 19,000, and decommission the Arak heavy water reactor.
Tehran has drastically reduced the number of centrifuges installed at the Fordow and Natanz enrichment sites within the last few months, and shipped tonnes of low-enriched uranium materials to Russia.
However there are contradictory reports in state media about the fate of the Arak heavy reactor and it is not clear if Iran has removed the core of the reactor and filled it with cement, as promised.
On Tuesday, the spokesman for Iran's atomic energy agency said IAEA inspectors had arrived in Iran to verify the final steps.
“The technical work under way is very demanding, but the Atomic Energy Agency of Iran has been trying to do it as fast as possible,” Behrouz Kamalvandi was quoted as saying by the Tasnim news agency.
Araqchi said on Wednesday that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s representative for foreign affairs, would issue a joint statement on Saturday or Sunday on the implementation of the deal and the lifting of EU, U.S. and U.N. sanctions.
“Implementation will be very soon,” said a senior Western diplomat.
“Everything is ready for the lifting of sanctions. The U.S. and European Union are ready. To some extent it’s just about pressing the button,” the diplomat added.
Iran, keen to export oil freely again once sanctions are dismantled, has repeatedly said that it has enriched uranium only to create an alternative source of electricity.
The IAEA’s Board of Governors passed a resolution in December ending its long-running inquiry into whether Iran once had a secret nuclear weapons program or so-called “possible military dimensions” (PMD).
Iran released 10 U.S. sailors on Wednesday after holding them overnight, bringing a swift end to an incident that had rattled nerves ahead of the expected implementation of the nuclear deal.
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