IAEA chief lands in Tehran to meet Iran's president

AFP , Monday 18 Jan 2016

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Yukiya Amano of Japan and European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini, right, arrive at the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, in Vienna, Austria, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016 (Photo: AP)

The head of the United Nations atomic watchdog Yukiya Amano arrived in Tehran Monday for talks with President Hassan Rouhani, two days after Iran's nuclear deal with world powers went into force.

The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed late Saturday that Tehran had complied with its obligations under last summer's accord, leading the United States and the European Union to lift sanctions imposed over Iran's disputed nuclear programme that crippled its economy for a decade.

These obligations included Iran dramatically downscaling its nuclear programme, including slashing by two-thirds the number of centrifuges, which can make uranium suitable for nuclear power but also for a nuclear bomb.

Combined with closer IAEA oversight, this will make it extremely difficult for Iran to make a nuclear weapon, and the limits on the size of Iran's activities remain in place for at least a decade.

Additional sanctions will be lifted on the so-called "Transition Day" eight years after the deal, so in 2023.

But this can happen sooner if the IAEA issues before then its so-called "Broader Conclusion".

This is a clean bill of health certifying that all nuclear activities in Iran are being used for peaceful purposes, and Amano said last year that this could take "years and years".

Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation, said that "we want to shorten this period and this is possible with the help of the Agency," the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying on Monday.

Amano was also to meet Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's atomic organisation, to discuss monitoring and verifying Tehran's commitments under the agreement, which allows for greater IAEA inspections.

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