Global powers negotiating with Iran have drawn up a system which will give the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to all suspect Iranian sites, a senior American official said Monday, though Secretary of State John Kerry said it was too soon to tell whether a deal was possible.
“We have worked out a process that we believe will ensure that the IAEA has the access it needs,” the administration official told reporters, according to the AFP news agency.
“The entry point isn’t we must be able to get into every military site, because the United States of America wouldn’t allow anybody to get into every military site, so that’s not appropriate,” the official added.
If the system is agreed to by Iran, according to the official, then it could mark a potential breakthrough in months of negotiations with the Islamic Republic which has refused to provide the IAEA access to sensitive sites.
“There are conventional purposes, and there are secrets that any country has that they are not willing to share,” the official was quoted as having said.
“But if in the context of this agreement… the IAEA believes that it needs access and has a reason for that access, then we have a process to ensure that that is given,” the official added.
The official, who asked not to be named, said Washington had long insisted that if the IAEA felt it needed access to a suspect site “then they should be able to get it”.
“If that happens to be a military site then that should be available,” the official said, adding the IAEA had an “institutional responsibility” to explore what the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program may have been.
The IAEA has for years tried to probe suspicions that Tehran worked on atomic arms, but has continuously reported little progress in its attempts to probe the allegations.
In fact, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano recently said that concluding that Iran's nuclear program is entirely peaceful will take "years and years", even if Iran and the six world powers sign an accord.
The American official’s comments on Monday came as the sides continue talks aimed at reaching a permanent agreement. Iran has continuously reiterated that it will not allow any inspection of its military sites, calling the demand to do so “excessive”.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Monday it was too soon to tell if a nuclear deal with Iran is possible as he awaited the return of Iran’s foreign minister from consultations in Tehran.
“We’re just working and it’s too early to make any judgments,” Kerry told reporters in Vienna, according to AFP.