IAEA chief says can’t guarantee Iran nuclear programme is peaceful

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The head of the international nuclear watchdog said yesterday that he is not in a position to guarantee that Iran’s nuclear activity is peaceful, despite July’s agreement with the international community.

The July accord between Tehran and the P5+1 powers (US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) is likely to see Iran reduce its nuclear capability over the coming decade in return for a reduction in international sanctions. However, Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) yesterday told the organisation’s 35-nation board that he is “not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran.” In addition, Amano said he cannot ensure that “all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

Amano cast further doubt on Iran’s intentions as he also addressed an upcoming report on Iran’s past nuclear activities, which is mandated as part of July’s accord. The report, which is due to be released next week, will determine whether Iran’s past nuclear activities included possible military dimensions. Amano said that “The report will not be black and white,” adding, “What I can now say is that this is an issue that cannot be answered by ‘yes’ and ‘no.’”

Meanwhile, Hassan Karimpour, an adviser to Iran’s Quds Force commander Qassem Suleiman, was reported to have said that Iran is “closer than ever” to developing a nuclear bomb. In comments reported by both BBC’s Persian service and Israel’s Channel Two, Karimpour said that completing a nuclear bomb would be “easier than putting in a contact lens,” and that it would be “easy to do, as soon as the spiritual ban on nuclear weapons were lifted.”

The Iranian regime has always insisted that its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful. However, according to the Iranian Fars news agency, Karimpour said that Iran possesses 14 underground missile depots equipped with automatic launchers.