July 31, 2015 / 1:42 PM / in 2 years

U.N. nuclear watchdog chief to meet U.S. senators next week

VIENNA (Reuters) - The U.N. nuclear watchdog chief will meet with the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Wednesday in Washington to discuss his agency’s monitoring role in Iran following Tehran’s deal with world powers on curbing its atomic activity.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano arrives for a board of governors meeting at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria, June 10, 2015. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

Some members of the U.S. Congress, which is considering whether to approve the deal, have asked that more information be made public relating to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s part in verifying Iran’s implementation of the pact.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement on Friday that Director General Yukiya Amano “will discuss the IAEA’s role in verifying and monitoring nuclear-related measures under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” which was agreed by Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union in Vienna earlier this month.

Amano has the delicate task of assessing Iran’s past and future nuclear program. He has no political mandate and never tires of stressing the IAEA’s technical role.

He must nonetheless manage and maintain a fine balance between delivering data on Iran’s nuclear activities and the major political consequences such information can have.

If Iran were to break promises it made in the historic July 14 deal reached with six world powers, Amano and his inspectors would be responsible for detecting and telling the world about the breach.

The IAEA said it is normal practice for it not to publish safeguards arrangements with countries and that Iran is no exception, adding that the arrangement it reached with Iran on July 14 meets its requirements to clarify outstanding issues.

The U.S. Congress has until Sept. 17 to accept or reject the agreement. American Republicans have objected to the deal as not tough enough to prevent Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon in the long run.

At an emotional Senate hearing this week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned that rejecting the deal would remove all limits on Iran’s nuclear work, give it a fast track to a weapon and access to billions of dollars from collapsed sanctions.

Under the July 14 pact, world powers agreed to lift sanctions in return for curbs on a nuclear program the West suspects was aimed at developing the means to build an atomic bomb. Tehran says it seeks only peaceful atomic energy.

Reporting by Shadia Nasralla and Michelle Nichols; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Jonathan Oatis

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