VIENNA, The International Atomic Energy Agency, the world’s nuclear regulatory watchdog, voted Tuesday to halt its yearslong investigation into Iran’s past nuclear activity in favor of moving forward with the accord reached this year between Tehran and six Western powers — including the United States.
The IAEA, a 35-nation member agency, had been looking into Iran’s nuclear program over the past decade to determine if the Islamic nation was pursuing atomic weapons. Tuesday, though, the agency’s board of governors voted unanimously to stop the probe.
Instead, the IAEA decided to pursue implementation of the nuclear deal reached over the summer, which seeks to limit Tehran’s nuclear activity to peaceful purposes. In exchange, economic sanctions against Iran — amounting to about $100 billion in frozen funds — would be lifted.
The accord was reached between negotiators from Tehran and the United States, along with five other Western allies.
“This closes the board’s consideration of this item,” the IAEA’s resolution said.
The agency issued a report earlier this month that concluded Iran sought nuclear weapons until 2009. Since then, though, the IAEA said, it found no evidence that Tehran continued on that track beyond that point.
“The Agency has no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said. “Nor has the Agency found any credible indications of the diversion of nuclear material in connection with the possible military dimensions (PMD) to Iran’s nuclear program.”
Iranian officials applauded the agency’s decision Tuesday and said it will allow full implementation of the nuclear agreement as early as next month, The New York Times reported.
“Based on this resolution, it can be said unequivocally that the fake issue of so-called military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program, known as PMD, now belongs to history,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the nation’s semiofficial Tasnim News Agency.
Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA called Tuesday’s vote “historic,” the Tehran Times reported.
“The fake issue of possible so-called military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program has become history now,” Zarif added.
Republicans in Congress, though, oppose the agency’s closing the investigation. Senate Republicans, who voted against this year’s nuclear deal, also criticized theObama administration for acting in a similar manner.
“I welcome today’s consensus,” Secretary of State John Kerry, one of the negotiators of the nuclear deal, said Tuesday. “The focus now appropriately moves toward full implementation of the [agreement] and its enhanced verification and transparency regime.”
By Doug G. Ware