Iran's promise to clarify its use of detonators marks only an initial step by Tehran to address long-standing allegations of past nuclear weapons research, the UN atomic watchdog said yesterday.
"This is the first step that is taking place now," International Atomic Energy Agency chief inspector Tero Varjoranta told reporters at Vienna airport after returning from Iran.
On Sunday, Iran and the IAEA agreed a new seven-step plan to increase transparency, including a pledge by Iran to provide "information and explanations for the Agency to assess Iran's stated need or application for the development of Exploding Bridge Wire detonators".
These detonators can have "non-nuclear applications", noted IAEA in a November 2011 report, but mostly they are used in weapons research and therefore Iran's stated development of them "is a matter of concern".
Meanwhile, Iran has developed a new generation of centrifuges which are 15 times more powerful than those currently being used to enrich uranium, its atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi said yesterday. He said the development was not in violation of a November 24 agreement between Iran and six world powers that has imposed curbs on Tehran's nuclear drive.
Iran's ballistic missile programme will not be discussed in nuclear negotiations with world powers, the deputy foreign minister said in statements published yesterday.
The remarks by Abbas Araqchi came a week before negotiations were to resume on a comprehensive accord over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
US lead negotiator in the talks, Wendy Sherman, last week told a Senate hearing that Iran's ballistic missile programme would be addressed in the comprehensive deal.
"The defence-related issues are a red line for Iran. We will not allow such issues to be discussed in future talks," said Araqchi.
"We will not discuss any issue other than the nuclear dossier in the negotiations," he added.