Iran will be permitted to continue advanced research and development work on its nuclear program under the interim nuclear deal reached over the weekend, according to senior Obama administration officials.
Nuclear talks were reported to have broken down late last year over the issue of whether Iran would be permitted to continue critical research and development in the nuclear arena.
The White House confirmed on Monday that Iran would be permitted to continue developing advanced nuclear centrifuges that will enable it to more quickly enrich uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon.
Asked by a reporter on a conference call if the deal stops "Iran from designing new types of centrifuges," a senior administration official admitted that the deal does not prohibit this activity.
"Well, designing is not, all I would say is the, what you would do with a piece of paper and designing, that’s not the sort of thing that the Joint Plan of Action—the Joint Plan of Action talks about research and development, R&D, and it mainly talks about what was going—practices at the Natanz power facility, which is the facility that the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] has access to and where we have reporting on," the official said.
"So what’s the practical effect of this R&D [research and development] clarification that you labored over so hard? What does it preclude them from doing?" the reporter asked.
"It—I mean, their commitment is to continue their current enrichment R&D practices, and those are the practices that are laid out in the November Director General’s report," said one of two senior administration officials on the press briefing. "This—that’s been documented, and that’s what they were—that’s what they will continue to do."
Reuters reported last week that nuclear talks temporarily fell apart over the issue of centrifuge research, which had been one of the principal sticking points in the deal.
Iran says that Western nations have given it the go ahead to continue with "the installation of new generation centrifuges."
"The [use of] new generation of centrifuges for research purposes was the most important remaining issue in the talks between Iran and the G5+1 in recent months," chairman of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi said on Monday, according to Iran’s Fars News Agency.
"At last, the Group 5+1 accepted yesterday that Iran’s operating new generation of centrifuges for research does not run counter to the Geneva agreement,"Boroujerdi said.