UN Nuclear Agency, Iran Strike Deal on Inspection of Arak Reactor

IAEA, Iran sign joint statement on future cooperation to resolve nuclear issues; six world powers negotiating with Iran demand that Tehran suspend construction at Arak.

The United Nations Atomic agency said it and Iran on Monday signed a joint statement on future cooperation to resolve remaining nuclear issues.

The agreement opens the way for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to visit the Arak heavy water site and Gachin uranium mine and for measures requested by the agency to be implemented.

"The practical measures will be implemented in the next three months, starting from today," IAEA head Yukiya Amano said in a news conference in Tehran, broadcast on state television.

The six world powers negotiating with Iran are demanding that Tehran suspend construction of the heavy water reactor at Arak, which could in the future be used to manufacture plutonium for a nuclear weapon. A senior American official briefing reporters in Jerusalem said that the six powers were trying to ensure that work on Arak doesn’t advance.

During the recent second round of talks with Iran in Geneva, the Americans made clear to Iran that they know of no use for a heavy water reactor in a peaceful nuclear power program. “The issue of the reactor at Arak is very important to all the powers, the senior U.S. official said. “Everyone is concerned about it. We want to put more time on the clock with regard to progress on the facility in Arak,” he said.

Israel views the reactor at Arak as an Iranian effort to establish another track to producing nuclear weapons, parallel to its uranium enrichment. The reactor is not expected to come on line until the end of 2014, but Israel suspects that when it does go into operation, the Iranians will use its by-products to build a plutonium-based nuclear weapon.