Iran, UN watchdog agree on probe of nuclear sites

Islamic Republic to open up Arak heavy water site and Gachin uranium mine to IAEA inspectors; move comes as UN nuclear chief visits Tehran.

Iran's Arak heavy water reactor 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran's Arak heavy water reactor 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
DUBAI - The United Nations atomic energy watchdog and Iran on Monday signed a joint statement on future cooperation to resolve remaining nuclear issues.
The agreement is a step towards resolving concerns of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about Iran's nuclear activities and opens the way for its inspectors to visit two more nuclear sites, the Arak heavy water site and the Gachin uranium mine.
"The joint statement that was signed today represents a road map that specifies bilateral steps in relation to resolving outstanding issues," the head of Iran's atomic energy organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, said during a news conference in Tehran with head of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano.
"I have received permission for inspectors to visit the Arak heavy water plant and the Gachin mine, which has been requested by the agency, and Iran has voluntarily announced its readiness for this," ISNA quoted Salehi as saying.
Amano said the agreement would be followed by the implementation of a number of practical steps in the next three months. He described the framework as an important step forward but there was "still a lot of work to be done", ISNA reported.
The agreement is intended to set up an inspection regime to allow the IAEA to ascertain whether Iran's nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, a claim offered repeatedly by Iranian officials.
It has asked for access to sites, officials and documents in Iran as part of its inquiry.
Also as part of the deal, the IAEA said Iran has agreed to provide information to UN inspectors about planned nuclear facilities including research reactors under a cooperation agreement signed by the two sides on Monday.
The agreement, seen by Reuters, listed a series of steps to be taken by Iran to ensure greater transparency in its disputed nuclear program, also including "managed access" to a uranium mine and a heavy water plant.
The measures will be implemented within three months, the agency said.