TEHRAN: Iran agreed on Sunday to clarify to the United Nations (UN) atomic agency its need for detonators used in nuclear devices, as part of a probe into allegations of its past weapons work.
The move is part of seven new steps agreed between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to increase transparency over Tehran’s controversial nuclear drive.
And it appears to be the first time in years Iran has agreed to tackle IAEA suspicions that its nuclear work prior to 2003 had “possible military dimensions.”
The development comes with Iran set to resume nuclear talks with world powers later this month, after an initial accord in November imposed curbs on its uranium enrichment to allay concerns that it seeks to acquire atomic weapons.
Capping two-days of talks in Tehran with Iranian officials, the IAEA said Iran agreed to provide “information and explanations for the agency to assess Iran’s stated need or application for the development of Exploding Bridge Wire (EBW) detonators.”
According to the IAEA, Iran told the agency in 2008 that it had developed EBWs for “civilian and conventional military applications” but has yet to explain its “need or application for such detonators.”
Such fast, high-precision detonators could be used in some civilian applications but are mostly known for triggering a nuclear chain reaction. The IAEA believes they form “an integral part of a program to develop an implosion type nuclear device.”
Mark Hibbs, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the detonators are “fine wires . . . designed to perform with exceeding precision and reliability. Without that dependability, the detonations would fail.”