The International Atomic Energy Agency is free to deploy advanced equipment to ensure an Iranian heavy-water complex is not generating bomb-usable plutonium, Tehran indicated in a Thursday report by Bloomberg.
Observers worry the Arak facility could separate plutonium from used fuel after its scheduled 2014 opening. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful and the heavy-water site would carry out no plutonium separation, but the U.N. nuclear watchdog in recent weeks said it can confirm the assertion "only with respect" to findings by auditors who travel to the site.
“We always welcome the agency to have more sophisticated equipment, to have more accuracy in their measurements, so that technical matters will not be politicized,” said Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the Vienna, Austria-based agency.
The Obama administration's chief delegate to the organization on Wednesday said the Arak site establishes "a plutonium path to potential weapons-grade material for a nuclear device.”
Ambassador Joseph Macmanus added he did not believe Washington had decided to seek a fifth IAEA governing board referral of the Iran dispute to the U.N. Security Council. "We have dealt with this issue and will continue to in an incremental fashion," he said, adding the 35-nation board will convene again in September.
Meanwhile, experts said U.S. legislators might push in coming months to halt almost all of Iran's petroleum exports, Reuters reported on Thursday.
The State Department on Wednesday said it would extend sanctions exclusions for nine governments deemed to have substantially curbed purchases of Iranian petroleum. The half-year reprieves went to China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Turkey.