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U.N.: Still a way to go in Iran nuke probe

Feb. 10, 2014 - 11:35AM   |  
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VIENNA — U.N. inspectors looking into allegations Iran worked on nuclear arms cautioned Monday that — despite progress this weekend — their long-stalled probe still had a long way to go to determine whether such suspicions are valid.

Iran says it does not want such arms, and agreed Sunday to answer some questions on suspicions that it worked on a detonator that could set off a nuclear charge.

But senior inspector Terjo Varjoranta said Tehran’s concession was only “the first step,” with many issues remaining.

Varjoranta’s International Atomic Energy Agency raised concerns about detonator development three years ago. Back then, the agency said such technology had “limited civilian and conventional military applications” and was a matter of concern “given their possible application in a nuclear explosive device.”

The Iranians also agreed to provide information on a site where Tehran experimented with laser uranium enrichment and allow a visit there.

While uranium enrichment is not directly linked to the IAEA’s weapons probe, any hidden enrichment work would worry the United States and its allies. Iran says it is enriching only to make reactor fuel.

Washington and five other world powers are meeting Feb. 18 with Iran in Vienna as they work to turn a first-step agreement into a pact that permanently curbs Iran’s uranium enrichment in exchange for ending sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Both sides say those talks are off to a promising start. But the U.S. and its allies are looking to the IAEA-Iran meetings for additional signals that Iran is serious in wanting to ease tensions over its nuclear program.

In Tehran Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he did not expect a final deal from the Vienna talks, adding they are made “difficult” by Iranian distrust of the United States.

——

AP writer Nasser Karimi contributed from Tehran.

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