Introduction:For years, Iran has been under intense scrutiny from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over its nuclear energy program. Past failure to declare all nuclear facilities and materials in a timely fashion have led to increased concerns among the some countries that Iran intends to secretly develop nuclear weapons. Yet, as of the 2007 N.I.E. report, no evidence has been found of such intentions.
Iran is a member of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and concluded the comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA in 1974. Iran signed the Additional Protocol in 2003, but has not yet ratified it.
Iran started its civilian nuclear energy program with assistance from the United States in the 1970s. Iranian nuclear facilities include a uranium enrichment plant in Natanz, and a heavy water reactor near Arak, both of which were concealed from the IAEA until 2002 as well as an underground enrichment site at Fordo. In 2003, the IAEA announced that Iran had breached its safeguards agreement by failing to fully declare its nuclear activities. Furthermore, IAEA inspectors found traces of enriched uranium on centrifuges imported from Pakistan. Iran claimed the contamination stems from the centrifuges’ earlier use in Pakistan and denied having tested them with uranium.
Urged by international pressure, in 2013 Iran agreed to permit “managed access” by international inspectors to two key nuclear facilities that have not been regularly viewed, but the promise does not extend to one of the most contentious locations, the Parchin military site. Inspectors from the IAEA have been trying to see sections of the site where they suspect that at one time Iran tested triggering devices for nuclear weapons.
The first direct US-Iran talks since 1979 took place in September of 2013, beginning a series of discussions that have led to the Framework Agreement of April. The formation of the deal has been slow going and as of April of 2015, Iran has agreed to nuclear limits, but several key issues remain unresolved. According to European officials, roughly 5,000 centrifuges will remain spinning enriched uranium at Natanz, while the underground enrichment site at Fordo will be partly converted to advanced nuclear research and the production of medical isotopes; also, a major reactor at Arak will operate on a limited basis that will not provide enough fuel for a bomb. The deadline for a final agreement has been set for June 30, 2015.
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