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Continued: Iran, US blame each other for failed nuclear talks in Geneva, some diplomatic progress made

  • Article by: BRIAN MURPHY , Associated Press
  • Last update: November 11, 2013 - 4:10 PM

For Netanyahu and his backers, however, hopes have all but evaporated that Iran can be forced by negotiators to completely end its ability to make nuclear fuel. It's now unclear what type of deal would satisfy Israel, which sees a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to its existence.

Iran has denied it seeks nuclear arms and insists its only seeks reactors for energy and medical applications. Iranian officials portrayed the expanded U.N. access as further sign it seeks to work with the West.

Under the plans, announced at a joint news conference, Iran would allow inspectors a first-time visit of its key Gachin uranium mine on the Gulf coast and give broader access to the heavy water facility being built in the central city of Arak. Heavy water reactors use a different type of coolant to produce a greater amount of plutonium byproduct than conventional reactors. Inspectors from the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency have already visited the reactor site but seek more extensive examinations.

Plutonium can be used in nuclear weapons production, but separating it from the reactor byproducts requires a special technology that Iran does not possess.

The new accord with the U.N. also calls on Iran to provide more details on its nuclear program including proposed new reactor sites and all planned research reactors. This is important because such facilities use 20 percent enriched uranium, which is the highest level acknowledged by Iran and a key aspect of the ongoing nuclear talks. Halting the 20 percent enrichment — which is several steps away from weapons-grade — is a key goal of Western envoys, for which they may offer Iran a possible easing of U.S.-led sanctions.

IAEA teams have combed Iran for years and have around-the-clock monitoring systems at main sites such as the Russian-built reactor at Bushehr on the Gulf coast and the biggest enrichment facility at Natanz in central Iran. Inspectors also have visited a once-secret enrichment lab, known as Fordo, built into a mountainside south of Tehran after it was disclosed in 2009.

But some areas remain off-limits despite repeated demands from the IAEA.

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