World powers are prepared to accept a nuclear agreement with Iran that does not immediately answer questions about past atomic weapons work, American and Western officials said Thursday, according to The Associated Press (AP).
After a November 2013 interim accord, the Obama administration said a comprehensive solution "would include resolution of questions concerning the possible military dimension of Iran's nuclear program."
But those questions will not be answered by the June 30 deadline for a final deal, officials told AP Thursday, echoing an assessment by the UN nuclear agency's top official earlier this week.
The officials said, however, that an accord nevertheless remains possible. One senior Western official on Thursday described diplomats as "more likely to get a deal than not" over the next three weeks.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has for years tried to probe suspicions that Tehran worked on atomic arms and has reiterated that more cooperation is needed by Iran for full clarity on its present activities.
The IAEA is focused on 12 alleged activities that point to Iranian attempts to make such weapons, including suspicions that Tehran worked on the development on a nuclear payload for missiles.
The agency relaunched its probe two years ago by asking for information on less sensitive work related to nuclear arms allegedly carried out by Iran, with hopes of moving to larger issues later.
However, the IAEA has continuously reported little progress in its attempts to probe the allegations against Iran, and its chief Yukiya Amano recently said that the agency had limited progress in its inquiry into possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear activities.
Instead of resolving questions on past activities this month, officials told AP the U.S. and its negotiating partners are working on a list of future commitments Iran must fulfill in an agreement setting decade-long curbs on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief.
The suspension of some sanctions would be tied to Iran finally answering all questions, giving world powers greater leverage, said the officials, who weren't authorized to speak publicly on the private discussions and demanded anonymity.
Iran and the six major powers reached a framework nuclear deal on April 2 in Lausanne, Switzerland, and are seeking to reach a final agreement by a June 30 deadline, but still have to work out differences on several issues.
One of the issues of contention is the question of inspections of Iran’s military sites. Iran has categorically denied reports that it would allow inspectors into its sites as part of a final deal, describing them as mere rumors and as wrong interpretations of the understanding reached in early April.
Iran’s Deputy Chief of Staff last week reiterated that the Islamic Republic will not allow any inspection of its military sites, calling the demand to do so “excessive”.