x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Iran to give atomic energy watchdog 'full supervision' if sanctions lifted

European Union says Iran must first re-establish confidence for any sanctions to be lifted, and comply with its international obligations.

TEHRAN // Iran said yesterday that it was ready to give the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) "full supervision" of its nuclear programme for five years if sanctions are lifted, as it alleged a rise in "sabotage" of its controversial work.

"We have proposed that the agency keep Iran's activities and nuclear programme under full supervision for five years, providing the sanctions are lifted," the Iranian nuclear chief, Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, told ISNA news agency.

Iran is targeted by four sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment amid fears in the West that it seeks to build a nuclear bomb, a charge it vehemently denies. Mr Abbasi Davani neither said when the offer was made to the IAEA, nor what he meant by "full supervision".

The European Union said yesterday Iran must first re-establish confidence for any sanctions to be lifted. "Iran still has to comply with its international obligations, despite today's announcement," said Michael Mann, a spokesman for the EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton.

Much of Iran's nuclear activities are already under the control of the IAEA, including uranium enrichment - a process which can produce the fuel for a nuclear reactor and also the fissile material for an atomic warhead.

The IAEA said in a report that it is "increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organisations".

These included "activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile", according to the report, which is due to be discussed by the IAEA's 35-member board of governors at a meeting next week.

Mr Abbasi Davani said such allegations are "baseless and fabricated".

The UN watchdog has for years criticised Tehran for refusing to answer a number of questions about its nuclear programme, and for denying access to certain sites, including the heavy-water reactor Iran is building in the central city of Arak.