The United Nations praised Iran’s decision to give investigators new information about a reactor, the second time in a week the Persian Gulf nation has signaled willingness to compromise on its Arak project.
An International Atomic Energy Agency team, led by its top inspector, Tero Varjoranta, agreed with Iranian counterparts to a seven-point deal that commits Iran to update design information about the Arak reactor and explain why it had developed advanced detonation technologies.
“Iran has taken all the initial pragmatic measures that they were supposed to do,” Varjoranta told reporters today in Vienna after returning from two days of talks in Iran. “There are still a lot of outstanding issues. Now we start on” possible military dimensions, he said.
Iran and world powers, set to resume negotiations Feb. 18, are working to defuse a decade long stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program. Home to the world’s no. 4 proven oil reserves, Iran agreed last year to a six-month suspension of its most sensitive atomic work in exchange for relaxed sanctions. Western nations accuse Iran of having sought nuclear weapons, a charge that it denies.
The IAEA agreement follows a Feb. 6 suggestion that Iran would be willing to change the design of its Arak reactor to produce less plutonium, the key material for nuclear weapons along with highly-enriched uranium.
The new accord also gives inspectors more access to uranium mining and nuclear facilities. Iran also pledged to give more detail on nuclear-material inventories and clear up suspicions that development of exploding bridge-wire, or EBW, detonators may have been part of its nuclear work.
“The development of safe, fast-acting detonators, and equipment suitable for firing the detonators, is an integral part of a program to develop an implosion-type nuclear device,” the IAEA reported in 2011.
Iran has told the IAEA that the detonators were developed for its energy sector. Companies including Houston-based Core Laboratories and Los Angeles-based Teledyne Reynolds make the same kind of detonators for oil drilling.
“Unlike conventional blasting caps and resistorized detonators normally used in oilfield perforating operations, EBWs do not contain sensitive primary explosives,” Core Laboratories said in a September 2012 presentation. “The greatest advantage of EBW detonators for oilfield use is the fact that they are extremely insensitive to accidental initiation.”