No 'snap' nuclear inspections, Iran says
Nuclear talks between Iran and world powers ended on a promising note on Wednesday, according to the United States, but analysts cautioned that Iran had not appeared to agree to any of the major demands of the West.
Media reports that Iran had agreed to “snap” inspections of its nuclear facilities were contradicted by an Iranian negotiator.
And the Iranians continued to insist that any serious concessions to the West would not come for at least a year, by which time the United States estimates Iran may have mastered the technology and produced the materials to build an atomic bomb.
Gary Samore, former chief adviser to President Obama on weapons of mass destruction, said reports on Iranian television that Iran offered to limit its enrichment of uranium — enrichment at high levels can produce fuel for a nuclear bomb — is no guarantee that the Islamic republic will not produce a bomb.
“The Iranian offer to limit the level of enrichment is not going to be sufficient,” said Samore, head of United Against Nuclear Iran.
To ensure the nuclear program is for peaceful purposes as Iran claims, the number of centrifuges that enrich uranium must be reduced, and there must be constant oversight and inspection of Iranian facilities, he said.
Exactly what Iran agreed to discuss was not made public at the end of talks in Geneva. The two sides did agree to meet again in November, Iran's foreign minister wrote on his Facebook page.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif described the two days of meetings as “fruitful” and said they would “hopefully be the beginning of a new phase in our relationship.”
Zarif said the West needed to take a “balanced” approach to the talks, a possible reference to Iran's demand that the West ease economic sanctions imposed to pressure Iran to open its nuclear program to inspection as required by nuclear pacts it signed.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Iran had shown a “level of seriousness and substance that we have not seen before.” European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton described the talks as the most “substantive” and “detailed” between the West and Iran.
Western countries suspect Tehran of trying to build nuclear bombs, and Israel and the United States have said Iran is on a path to enrich enough uranium to make a bomb in less than one year.
Iranian television reported that Iran was considering permitting short-notice visits of its nuclear sites as a final step in a year-long process it has proposed to end the standoff with the West, according to the BBC.
But Abbas Araqchi, Iran's chief negotiator, said snap visits did “not exist” in Iran's three-step plan.
Snap inspections are a necessary part of any deal and considered “a minimal condition,” said David Albright, a non-proliferation expert and president of the Institute for Science and International Security.
Iran agreed to such visits in 2003. It then suspended snap visits in 2006. Since then, the United States has learned Iran had a secret facility that contained thousands of centrifuges.
Without snap visits, “history has shown a country will build a secret nuclear program, and inspectors will not find it,” Albright said, citing secret nuclear programs developed in Iraq, Iran, Libya and Taiwan.