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Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
U.N. Watchdog Finds Few Changes in Iran Nuclear Effort
The U.N. atomic watchdog said Iran has not made "radical" changes to its nuclear program in recent months, as the international community has looked for signs that its new government will curb atomic activities, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is poised to release a quarterly report on Iran in the coming days -- and the U.N. body's leader suggested it will show the country has neither significantly curbed nor expanded its uranium-enrichment work during the August-to-November period.
"I can say that enrichment activities are ongoing ... no radical change is reported to me," IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano told Reuters in an interview in Vienna.
The IAEA quarterly assessment is the first one conducted since the moderate Hassan Rouhani became president in August, when he replaced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an uncompromising conservative.
Amano reportedly said Iran is continuing to enrich uranium to 20 percent, which could be quickly converted to bomb fuel. There have been mixed reports about whether Tehran has stopped such enrichment to 20 percent.
Amano, though, also reportedly said that Iran has not significantly increased its uranium-enrichment work over the three-month timeframe.
Since Rouhani came to office, Iran has been negotiating with both the International Atomic Energy Agency and the "P-5+1" nations -- the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany -- about curbing is nuclear activities. Tehran insists its atomic-development work is peaceful in nature, though international skeptics fear it is oriented toward weapons development.
Iran on Monday agreed to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to conduct inspections of two nuclear sites. An Iranian official on Tuesday added the review of the new Arak heavy-water nuclear reactor could be conducted before his country and the U.N. body resume talks on Dec. 11.
Amano told Reuters that Iran still had "quite a lot to do" to complete the Arak reactor, which is intended to produce plutonium.
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday planned to ask the Senate Banking Committee to not expand economic sanctions against Iran while the P-5+1 countries continue talks with Iran, which thus far have not yielded a long-sought deal to curb Iranian atomic activities.
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