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Iran slams US text on implementation of nuclear deal
by Staff Writers
Tehran (AFP) Jan 17, 2014

UN team in Iran to oversee landmark nuclear deal
Tehran (AFP) Jan 18, 2014 - Inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog arrived in Tehran Saturday in readiness to oversee implementation of a landmark deal that puts temporary curbs on Iran's nuclear programme, state media reported.

The team is led by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Iran task force, Massimo Aparo, and will hold talks with Iranian nuclear officials, the official IRNA news agency said.

It is tasked with reporting back to the Vienna-based agency on steps Tehran has to take under the deal agreed in November and finalised last week between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers.

Clinched after years of fruitless negotiations, the accord is to come into effect on January 20 and will last for six months during which Iran -- among other obligations -- must limit its enrichment of uranium to five percent.

It must also begin to neutralise its stockpile of uranium purified to 20 percent, a few technical steps short of weapons-grade.

Both measures are to be monitored and verified by the IAEA inspectors.

Iran's atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi said the inspectors would visit the two enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordo in central Iran, the state broadcaster reported on its website

"One of their responsibilities is to inspect the centrifuge machines" -- used to spin uranium at supersonic speeds -- "to ensure that suspension of 20 percent enrichment has taken place," Salehi said.

In return, Iran will be granted modest relief from Western sanctions and access to nearly 4.2 billion dollars of frozen assets in eight instalments.

During the six months of the deal, Iran will hold intensive talks with the P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany -- on a comprehensive agreement to allay Western concerns about its nuclear ambitions.

Western governments suspect Iran's civil nuclear programme masks a drive for a weapons capability, something Tehran strongly denies.

Iran denounced Friday as "one sided" a text released by the United States summarising the implementation of the nuclear deal Tehran struck with world powers.

"The White House statement is a unilateral and one-sided interpretation of the unofficial agreements between Iran and P5+1" major powers, foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said.

"By no means it is a criterion to evaluate or judge how the Geneva deal will be implemented," she added in statements carried by the official IRNA news agency.

In November, Iran agreed at talks in the Swiss city to roll back parts of its nuclear programme and halt further advances in exchange for the release of billions of dollars in frozen assets and limited relief from crippling sanctions.

Implementation of the six-month deal struck with the P5+1 group of Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany, is slated to begin on Monday.

On Thursday the White House released a summary of "technical understandings" for implementation, which includes a timetable for inspecting Iranian nuclear facilities by the UN nuclear watchdog.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts are to arrive in Iran Saturday. They are due to be deployed at nuclear sites identified in the November agreement to ensure Tehran complies with its part of the deal, Iranian officials have said.

The text released by the White House also contains a payment schedule for nearly $7 billion (5.2 billion euros) in blocked Iranian foreign exchange holdings, a modest easing of sanctions in return for a freeze on some parts of the Iranian nuclear programme.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the full text was made available to a restricted group of lawmakers and congressional aides.

He said the IAEA wants to keep certain aspects of the deal confidential, Carney said.

Washington released the text after US officials were forced to deny claims that there was a secret side deal accompanying the November deal.

Opponents of the deal, including Israel, said it gave up too much to Iran in return for too limited commitments to slow its nuclear activity.

And some in Congress want to slap new sanctions on Iran.

Iran says UN experts to inspect uranium mine this month
Tehran (AFP) Jan 17, 2014 - UN nuclear experts are to inspect Iran's Gachin uranium mine later this month for the first time in almost nine years, its Atomic Energy Organisation said on Friday.

"The inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency will travel to Tehran on January 29 to visit Gachin mine," AEO spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi told Iran's official IRNA news agency.

Iran agreed a framework deal with the UN nuclear watchdog in November that includes six steps Tehran must carry out by February 11.

"The agenda for negotiations between Iran and the IAEA which will take place on February 8 on how to implement the second phase is not clear yet," Kamalvandi said.

As part of the first phase of the deal, UN experts visited the heavy water plant at the unfinished Arak reactor on December 8, when all of the IAEA's "technical objectives" were met, the Vienna-based agency said.

At least a year from completion, the Arak reactor is a major source of concern for Western powers, who fear the plutonium it will produce as a by-product could provide Iran with an alternative route to an atomic bomb.

The November deal also allows UN experts to visit the Gachin uranium mine in southern Iran -- which has been off-limits to IAEA inspections since 2005.

"For Gachin... the IAEA wants to have as accurate a picture as possible of how much uranium feedstock it has," Mark Hibbs of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told AFP.

Hibbs said there were some question about "who has managed the operation and to whom they reported".

In November, Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said the "six-step annex" deal signed with the IAEA was a show of Tehran's good will.

"The visit to Gachin is therefore to some extent a confidence building measure toward what the IAEA hopes would be the eventual ratification and implementation of Iran's additional protocol," said Hibbs.

The additional protocol of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty provides for snap inspections of nuclear facilities by the IAEA and requires that information be provided on all activities regarding the nuclear fuel cycle.

Iran is a signatory of the NPT and voluntarily implemented the additional protocol between 2003 and 2006, but ceased applying it after its nuclear programme was referred to the UN Security Council.

As it stands, Iran is only obliged to inform the IAEA three months before it transfers fissile material into a nuclear facility.

Another analyst, Mark Fitzpatrick of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, said he foresaw no shock discoveries from the Gachin visit.

"There are no grounds for suspicion that anything worrisome is taking place at Gachin," he said.

"Applying safeguards to the mine will help the IAEA confirm the absence of a secret enrichment path, which would have to start with obtaining uranium ore."


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White House intensifies political campaign for Iran deal
Washington (AFP) Jan 17, 2014
The White House Thursday intensified an effort to placate political opposition to an interim Iran nuclear deal, as one influential Republican suggested delaying a vote on new sanctions until July. The Obama administration released an implementation agreement on the pact, which goes into force next week, to defuse claims it struck a secret back channel deal with the Islamic Republic. Top ... read more

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