UN agency closes the books on probe of allegations that Iran worked on nuclear arms

The UN nuclear agency closed the books Tuesday on its decade-long probe of allegations that Iran worked on atomic arms, and Tehran proclaimed that within weeks, it would finish cutbacks on present nuclear programs that the U.S. fears could be turned into making such weapons.

VIENNA — The UN nuclear agency closed the books Tuesday on its decade-long probe of allegations that Iran worked on atomic arms, and Tehran proclaimed that within weeks, it would finish cutbacks on present nuclear programs that the U.S. fears could be turned into making such weapons.

The probe had to be formally ended as part of a July 14 deal between Iran and six nations that involves the removal of economic sanctions on Tehran in exchange for its commitment to crimp its nuclear program. A resolution was approved by consensus of the 35-nation board of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

The move means that some questions about the alleged weapons work may never be resolved. Before the resolution’s adoption, agency head Yukiya Amano told the board that his investigation couldn’t “reconstruct all the details of activities conducted by Iran in the past.”

At the same time, he repeated an assessment he made last month that Iran worked on “a range of activities relevant” to making nuclear weapons, with co-ordinated efforts up to 2003 tapering off into scattered activities up to 2009.

Chief Iranian delegate Reza Najafi denied such work, in keeping with his country’s constant line during the protracted probe. In his statement to the board, and then to reporters outside the meeting, he said Tehran’s nuclear activities “have always been for peaceful civilian or conventional military uses.”

Noting that formal closure of the issue negates a series of critical IAEA resolutions against his country, he proclaimed Tuesday a “historic day” that opens the path to closer co-operation both with the agency and its member nations.

Amano hailed the “very important milestone.” At the same time, he noted that — with his agency charged with monitoring Iran’s commitments under a deal that extends for more than a decade — “much work needs to be done in the future.

“We cannot relax,” he said. “We cannot be complacent.”

Despite Iranian denials, the U.S. and its allies continue to believe that Tehran did work on components of a nuclear weapon. But their overriding interest is moving ahead to implement the July 14 deal.

Najafi, the Iranian delegate, said that — with the probe put to rest — Iran could meet its obligations under that agreement within “two or three weeks.”

But it was unclear whether that time frame would include not only Iran’s declaration that it has met its commitment, but also IAEA verification that it has cut back or re-engineered equipment and programs that could be used to make nuclear weapons Amano said his agency would need “some weeks” to sign off on its certification.

The deal also calls on Iran to ship to Russia most of its store of enriched uranium that is now at the level used to fuel reactors but could be further processed into the fissile core of nuclear warheads. Najafi said that transfer would be completed “within two or three days.”

Once the agency confirms that Iran has met its part of the deal, most individual and international sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear program will be lifted.

Western statements reflected the will to move on. The U.S. participated in drawing up the resolution ending the investigation along with the other nations that negotiated the deal with Iran — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the resolution allows the IAEA to “turn its focus now on the full implementation and verification” of Iran’s commitments to the July 14 agreement. Refraining from previous critical language, the European Union said only “we note” the agency conclusion.

At the same time, U.S. chief IAEA delegate Henry S. Ensher said the U.N. agency’s assessment wasn’t surprising, considering “Iran’s long history of concealment, denial and deception.”

Ensher also suggested the agency could again be called upon to investigate Iran, noting that the closure of the probe doesn’t prevent the agency from following up on “any new concerns regarding weaponization.”

Criticism came from Republican congressional opponents and Israel, both opposed to the July 14 deal that they say keeps Iran’s weapons-making capacity intact.

Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the IAEA decision a “capitulation.” Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon accused Iran of being “non-co-operative and deceptive,” while Israel’s IAEA delegate, while Merav Zafary-Odiz, decried the “erroneous resolution” ending the probe.

“Nothing has changed,” she declared. “All the indicators for the existence of a clandestine nuclear weapons development program in Iran … are still valid.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Red Deer Rebels hosted the Medicine Hat Tigers in the first game of the shortened 2020-21 season on Friday. The two teams faced off again in Medicine Hat Saturday (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels fall to Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday

Tigers 7 Rebels 2 The Red Deer Rebels have lost two straight… Continue reading

Erika Fetterly, owner of EFP Studios, recently launched the Let Them Have A Voice campaign. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta photographer’s campaign aims to give youths a voice

An Innisfail photographer is giving a platform to young central Albertans so… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

More than 120,000 Albertans have signed up to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the first two days of appointment bookings. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta Health Services apologizes after seniors struggle to book vaccine appointments

The CEO and president of Alberta Health Services is apologizing after seniors… Continue reading

Red Deer’s Kyle Moore, 26, will be a houseguest on Season 9 of Big Brother Canada. (Photo courtesy Big Brother Canada)
Red Deer man will be a houseguest on Big Brother Canada

A Red Deer man will be a houseguest on the upcoming season… Continue reading

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Pornhub policies reveal legal gaps and lack of enforcement around exploitive videos

OTTAWA — Serena Fleites was in seventh grade when a sexually explicit… Continue reading

Sean Hoskin stands on a neighbourhood street in Halifax on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Hoskin was diagnosed with COVID-19 almost a year ago with symptoms that still persist. Some provinces have established programs to deal with long-term sufferers but Atlantic Canada, with relatively low numbers of patients, has yet to provide a resource to assist them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
On East Coast, exhausted COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ hope specialized clinics will emerge

HALIFAX — On evenings when Sean Hoskin collapses into bed, heart pounding… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (30) stands in his crease as Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88), left to right, defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4), Matthew Tkachuk (19), Mikael Backlund (11) and Mark Giordano (5) celebrate a goal during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Calgary Flames beat Ottawa 6-3 to end Senators’ three-game win streak

Flames 6 Senators 3 OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough to cover the average pinky nail but is made up of more than 280 components and requires at least three manufacturing plants to produce. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
From science to syringe: COVID-19 vaccines are miracles of science and supply chains

OTTAWA — A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough… Continue reading

Most Read