IAEA says Iran detonators deal only a ‘first step’

IAEA deputy director general and head of the department of safeguards, Tero Varjoranta (R), and Iran’s new ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency Reza Najafi (L) shake hands, in Tehran on Feb. 9, 2014. (Reuters)

Iran’s promise to clarify its use of detonators marks only an initial step by Tehran to address long-standing allegations of past nuclear weapons research, the U.N. atomic watchdog said Monday.

“This is the first step that is taking place now,” International Atomic Energy Agency chief inspector Tero Varjoranta told reporters at Vienna airport after returning from Iran.

“There is still a lot of outstanding issues so now we are starting on the PMD,” he said, referring to alleged “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear activities, mostly before 2003.

On Sunday, the Islamic Republic agreed on seven “practical steps” with the IAEA in talks seeking further safeguards to enhance transparency on Tehran’s nuclear drive, an Iranian nuclear official said. The plan included a pledge by Iran to provide “information and explanations for the Agency to assess Iran’s stated need or application for the development of Exploding Bridge Wire detonators.”

These detonators, known as EBW’s, can have “non-nuclear applications”, noted IAEA said in a November 2011 report, but mostly they are used in weapons research and therefore Iran’s stated development of them “is a matter of concern”.

The steps are meant to be implemented by May 15, Iran’s envoy to the Vienna-based body, Reza Najafi, told the ISNA news agency.

Iran-IAEA ties have improved since last year’s election of relatively moderate leader Hassan Rowhani as president of Iran on a platform to ease the country’s international isolation.

(With AFP and Reuters)

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:42 - GMT 06:42