VIENNA (AP) — Iran has agreed to help a U.N. probe of suspicions that it secretly worked on nuclear weapons, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Wednesday — a development that raises hopes the long-stalled investigation can finally make headway.
Iran has steadfastly dismissed such allegations as part of a campaign masterminded by the United States and Israel to discredit what it insists are Iran's peaceful nuclear intentions.
IAEA investigators recently came away disappointed after Iran told them that experiments with detonators were for civilian and conventional military use only. It was a similar answer to one six years ago, when the agency first linked such tests to work on setting off a nuclear weapon.
An IAEA team subsequently went to Tehran for nuclear talks Monday. Wednesday's agency announcement spoke of "good progress," indicating that it had received further answers that advanced its probe on the detonators.
Additionally, the agency said Iran agreed to provide information on two other subjects linked to possible nuclear weapons work: Experiments with high explosives that could be used in the process of setting off a nuclear charge, and modelling a nuclear warhead from uranium metal.
The Iranian response went a long way in what diplomats said was a push from IAEA chief Yukiya Amano to press Tehran to engage on three new areas of the nuclear weapons allegations.
The suspicions are part of a 12-point catalog published by the IAEA in November 2011 — and rejected by Iran as based on doctored or false intelligence from critics.
The IAEA investigation is separate from Iran's talks with six powers that are focused on an end to such sanctions if Tehran agrees to significant constraints on nuclear activities that could be used to make a nuclear bomb.
But U.S. officials say Iran also must clear up the nuclear weapons allegations as part of the comprehensive nuclear deal.