Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has signaled that there will be no IAEA agreement with Iran in the meetings in Vienna Monday and Tuesday on the terms for Iranian cooperation in clarifying issue of alleged nuclear weapons work.
Amano indicated in an interview with The Daily Beast on Friday that he intends to hold up an agreement on Iranian cooperation in responding to allegations of military involvement in its nuclear program until the IAEA is allowed to visit Parchin.
Amano told journalist Michael Adler the "standoff" over access to Parchin "has become like a symbol" and vowed to "pursue this objective until there's a concrete result."
Adler cited an "informed source" as saying that the IAEA rejects any linkage between a visit to Parchin and the rest of the plan for cooperation being negotiated, and insists that a visit to Parchin must come first before any agreement.
But the actual draft negotiating text of the agreement on "Clarification of Unresolved Issues" with Iran's proposed changes from the original IAEA proposal, which has been posted on the website of the Washington, D.C.-based Arms Control Association, shows that the major conflict over their cooperation is whether the process has a definite endpoint, not access to Parchin.
Iran's permanent representative to the IAEA, Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh, has said that Iran is willing to grant access to Parchin but only under an agreed plan for Iranian cooperation with the IAEA.
Amano and Western officials have justified the insistence on immediate access to the Parchin site to investigate an alleged explosive containment vessel for testing related to a nuclear weapon by suggesting that satellite photographs show Iran may be trying to "clean up" the site.
Amano hinted at that accusation in the interview with Adler without making it explicitly. "We have information and there are some moves -- there's something moving out there," he said. "Going there soon is better."
But it is well known that no amount of washing would eliminate traces of radioactivity, which would be easily detected by any IAEA inspection.
On March 8, in response to a presentation by Soltanieh to the IAEA Board of Governors detailing the negotiations, Amano confirmed, in effect, that agency was insisting on being able to extend the process by coming up with more questions, regardless of Iran's responses to the IAEA's questions on the agreed list of topics. He complained that Iran had sought to force the agency to "present a definitive list of questions" and to deny the agency "the right to revisit issues."
Amano's demands for immediate access to Parchin and for a process without any clear endpoint appear to be aimed at allowing the United States and its allies to continue accusing Iran of refusing cooperation with the IAEA during negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group scheduled to resume in Baghdad on May 23.
Amano was elected to replace the more independent Mohamed ElBaradei in 2009 with U.S. assistance and pledged to align the agency with U.S. policy on Iran as well as other issues, as revealed by WikiLeaks cables dated July and October 2009. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Slanting the Case on Iran's Nukes."]
The draft text as of Feb. 21 shows Iran seeking a final resolution of the issues within a matter of weeks but the IAEA insisting on an open-ended process with no promise of such an early resolution.
The unfinished negotiating draft explains why Iran is holding on to Parchin access as a bargaining chip to get an agreement that would give Iran some tangible political benefit in return for information responding to a series of IAEA allegations.
The still unfinished draft represents the original draft from the IAEA, as modified by Iran during the last round of talks, according to Soltanieh in an interview with IPS on March 15.