Amano: Agreement With Iran Reached, “Will Be Signed Quite Soon”

It appears that the hopeful signals being sent out by Iran yesterday ahead of the visit by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano have been followed through. Speaking to reporters after his return to Vienna this morning, Amano announced that Iran and the IAEA have reached agreement on how to move forward on inspection of Iran’s nuclear activities.

Of particular importance, Amano describes the agreement as part of a structured approach, which seems to fit Iran’s insistence that any agreement would lay out in advance the framework for how and where inspections are to take place. From Bloomberg:

“There was an important development on the structured approach document on which we have been working since January,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said today in Vienna after returning from Tehran, where the deal was reached yesterday. “The decision was made to conclude and sign an agreement.”

The accord will be signed “quite soon,” Amano told journalists, without giving a date or details. The agreement comes as negotiators head to Baghdad for a second round of negotiations tomorrow over Iran’s nuclear program.

The New York Times has more key details, including the fact that inspection of the Parchin facility will be part of the agreement:

Mr. Amano’s visit to Tehran on Monday was his first to Iran since his appointment in 2009. Mr. Amano’s trip here, announced unexpectedly on Friday, was part of what diplomats in Vienna called an effort centered on persuading Iran to allow inspections of a site the agency suspects has been used for secret tests for triggering mechanisms that could be used in a nuclear weapon. Iranian officials have ridiculed those suspicions and contended that the site, called Parchin, was sufficiently inspected by the agency in 2005.

Diplomats in Vienna said an investigation of the Parchin site was “not the only game in town” in the negotiations on the so-called structured approach.”

Asked about the Parchin site specifically, Mr. Amano said: “I have raised this issue of access to Parchin and this issue will be addressed as a point of the implementation of the structured approach document.”

Significantly, the suggestions that Iran has attempted to clean the Parchin site have not made it into any of the articles I have seen announcing this agreement. Note that in the Times article above, there is reference to the IAEA suspecting that trigger work has been carried out there, but that Iran had ridiculed those suggestions. That is a bit inaccurate, as the ridicule from Iran has been directed at the suggestion that Iran was trying to wash away evidence of trigger work carried out with uranium present in the experiments with explosives. As I pointed out, such work would have resulted in neutron activation making the entire steel tank radioactive in a way such that it could not be cleaned by scrubbing its surface. It also seems significant that the “diplomats in Vienna” cited by the Times now seem to be downplaying the significance of Parchin.

One of the biggest instigators of the Parchin issue has been the AP’s George Jahn, who released a cartoon drawing of a tank earlier this month. Marcy compared this to Colin Powell’s infamous vial of anthrax and other falsified “intelligence”. In his article this morning about the agreement, Jahn also refrained from returning to the accusation of cleaning the Parchin site.

Jahn does paint the US a skeptical of Iran’s willingness to cooperate:

Western diplomats are skeptical of Iran’s willingness to open past and present activities to full perusal, believing it would only reveal what they suspect and Tehran denies — that the Islamic Republic has researched and developed components of a nuclear weapons program. They say that Tehran’s readiness to honor any agreement it has signed is the true test of its willingness to cooperate

The United States is among those skeptics. In a statement released soon after Amano’s announcement, Robert A. Wood, America’s chief delegate to the nuclear agency, said Washington appreciated Amano’s efforts but remained “concerned by the urgent obligation for Iran to take concrete steps to cooperate fully with the verification efforts of the IAEA, based on IAEA verification practices.”

” We urge Iran to take this opportunity to resolve all outstanding concerns about the nature of its nuclear program,” said the statement. “Full and transparent cooperation with the IAEA is the first logical step.”

And the US Senate is of course moving in the opposite direction of negotiations, passing a bill on Monday calling for even tougher economic sanctions on Iran’s oil industry.

It is widely believed at this point that the agreement between the IAEA and Iran on inspections has set the stage for the P5+1 talks in Baghdad tomorrow to lead to an agreement in which Iran will stop enrichment of uranium to 20% and confine itself to low-grade enrichment to 3.5%. Such an agreement would defuse tensions significantly, especially if the West responds by loosening the sanctions on Iranian oil.

At this point, cautious optimism might actually be escalating to moderate optimism.

Many years ago, Jim got a BA in Radiation Biophysics from the University of Kansas. He then got a PhD in Molecular Biology from UCLA and did postdoctoral research in yeast genetics at UC Berkeley and mouse retroviruses at Stanford. He joined biosys in Palo Alto, producing insect parasitic nematodes for pest control. In the early 1990’s, he moved to Gainesville, FL and founded a company that eventually became Entomos. He left the firm as it reorganized into Pasteuria Biosciences and chose not to found a new firm due a clash of values with venture capital investors, who generally lack all values. Upon leaving, he chose to be a stay at home dad, gentleman farmer, cook and horse wrangler. He discovered the online world through commenting at Glenn Greenwald’s blog in the Salon days and was involved in the briefly successful Chris Dodd move to block the bill to renew FISA. He then went on to blog at Firedoglake and served a brief stint as evening editor there. When the Emptywheel blog moved out of Firedoglake back to standalone status, Jim tagged along and blogged on anthrax, viruses, John Galt, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is now a mostly lapsed blogger looking for a work-around to the depressing realization that pointing out the details of government malfeasance and elite immunity has approximately zero effect.
9 replies
  1. MadDog says:

    I had to laugh at the all too predictable response from the US that access to Parchin was never all that important.

    Except for the fact that our warmongers insisted that it was critically important, and that the Iranian’s previous refusal to allow access meant ipso facto that Iran was hiding a nuclear weapons development process, and therefore, only an idiot wouldn’t see that as a casus belli to attack Iran.

    When one is in the grips of an obsession, reality’s arrival is always a bummer.

  2. quixote says:

    I’ve been watching our future progress with considerable interest. High gas prices = bad for re-election chances. Beating war drums = good for re-election chances, but leads to higher gas prices, which will be bad for re-election chances.

    So, I figured it would hinge on how well the Administration thought they could contain gas prices despite beating war drums.

    Seems like they’ve decided they’ll lose more votes to high gas prices than gain from drum-thumping. If they think they can get away with it without roiling oil markets, watch them start some thumping again.

  3. bsbafflesbrains says:

    On to the back-up plan for our MIC- AQ in Yemen. Won’t cause immediate hike in gas prices but we need to be protected from exploding underwear.

  4. PeasantParty says:

    Whew! What a relief. Now do we get to hunt down spores of radioactivity in the country?

  5. Bill says:

    Quixote, that high gas prices v. beating war-drums conundrum works the same for the economy: A slow economy is bad for relection, but keeps gas prices down, which is good for reelection. A strong economy is good for reelection but will drive up gas prices, which is bad for reelection.

    Finally, a strong economy might make Americans feel more confident, which is good for warmongering, but gas prices can’t take the double hit. A weak economy leaves room for warmongering without spiking gas prices, but Americans are more nervous about foreign adventurism.

    Three intertwined factors. Can Obama find the electoral sweet spot without doing anything too disastrous to the nation and world as a whole?

  6. GulfCoastPirate says:

    What’s been the reaction of the Israelis to the announcement? Hasn’t Bibi put on his loincloth and been beating his chest the last couple of days over such a development?

  7. Kathleen says:

    This morning (Wednesday) on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Andrea Mitchell was pulling her usual “negotiations have been exhausted”…”this is another Iranian trick” mantra.

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