Iran's President Hassan Rouhani attends a news conference in Shanghai.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Iran is set to complete its participation in an investigation by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency on the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program by Thursday, a deadline set by the international body.
The IAEA road map agreement with Iran – its existence made public, but its details still confidential – included a deadline for full compliance of October 15. Adoption of the deal will proceed after Iran has completed this, followed by full implementation of the nuclear accord.
While details of the investigation have not been published, a report by the IAEA on its findings, scheduled for release in mid-December, must declare that Iran has satisfactorily complied. The agency’s satisfaction is not predicated on finding results one way or another – either confirming or denying that Iran has conducted military nuclear work in the past.
Throughout the course of a two-year negotiation over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Obama administration has said it does not seek a “confession” from the Islamic Republic on its past nuclear work. The US and its allies say they know with confidence Iran tried to weaponize its nuclear program in the mid-2000s.
Under the JCPOA, Iran does not receive sanctions relief until after the IAEA releases its December report and a series of other nuclear-related steps are taken.
Preparing for “adoption day,” Iran’s parliament passed on Tuesday a bill supporting the parameters of the nuclear agreement.
The vote is a victory for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
The bill was passed with 161 votes for, 59 against and 13 abstentions. The bill stipulates that inspectors from the IAEA need approval from a top Iranian security body before visiting military sites, leaving the possibility that disagreements could still arise.
Western diplomats said last month that IAEA inspectors, who are tasked with verifying member states are not developing nuclear weapons, will have access to military sites where Iranian technicians are taking “swipe samples.”
The bill also says Iran should resume its nuclear activities if international sanctions are not lifted as agreed.
Under the July 14 accord with the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, Tehran agreed to limitations on its nuclear program in exchange for relief from the sanctions that have crippled its economy.
“According to the supreme leader’s religious decree, no government in Iran has the right to produce or use nuclear weapons and the government must actively follow international disarmament policy,” the parliamentary bill said, referring to Iran’s top authority, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Many conservative lawmakers opposed the JCPOA, and the vote, which followed a bad-tempered, rowdy debate on Sunday, lifts a significant hurdle to putting the deal into effect.
With strong parliamentary backing, the bill is likely to be ratified by a clerical body called the Guardian Council.
The exact stance of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on all matters of state, is not known. To date, he has neither approved nor rejected the agreement, but has commended the work of Rouhani’s negotiating team.
Provided Khamenei does not openly oppose it, many expect Iran will begin shutting down parts of its nuclear program in coming weeks.Reuters contributed to this report.