After optimistic negotiations fell apart over the weekend, Iran announced a preliminary deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency to give "managed access" to a uranium mine and a heavy water plant, but inspectors still won't have access to Iran's most controversial nuclear plant.
The deal revolves around the U.N.'s top nuclear agency getting access previously denied to them for inspections at the Gchine uranium mine and the Arak heavy water production plant over the next three months. "It is foreseen that Iran's cooperation will include providing the IAEA with timely information about its nuclear facilities and in regard to the implementation of transparency measures," according to a joint statement from the country and the U.N. The deal was announced on Iranian television by Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's atomic energy organization, and Yukiya Amano, the head of the IAEA.
But what inspectors really want to see — the plant that most suspect Iran of using for possible nuclear warhead development — remains elusive. As The New York Times points out, inspectors still aren't allowed to see the controversial Parchin plant. The IAEA has unsuccessfully fought for increased access to Parchin since satellite images indicated explosive tests were getting carried out in November 2011.
One thing the deal won't do is lift economic sanctions that have been imposed by the United States and Europe and were close to being eased before negotiations hit another wall. The broader talks with the five permanent countries in the U.N. Security Council fell apart over the weekend after France demanded Iran suspend development at the Arak heavy water facility, which has a reactor that will produce heavy amounts of plutonium when finished. But U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gave a different story to reporters in Abu Dhabi, shifting responsibility for the failings of the Geneva talks to Iran. "The French signed off on it, we signed off on it," Kerry said. "There was unity, but Iran couldn't take it."