Iran’s Rouhani claims victory after UN closes book on past nuke work

Iran’s Rouhani claims victory after UN closes book on past nuke work
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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani claimed victory on Wednesday, a day after the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog closed its 12-year investigation into his country’s work to create nuclear weapons. 

Iran will move to finalize this summer's international nuclear deal in coming weeks, Rouhani said in an address on state television, following Tuesday’s vote from the 35 nations that make up the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

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"Now the main obstacle to implement the [nuclear pact] is lifted,” Rouhani said, according to Reuters. “Iran will start implementation of the nuclear deal within two or three weeks.”

The IAEA reached its conclusion Tuesday after reporting that Iran had taken initial steps to build a nuclear bomb but that those efforts ended in 2009. “Coordinated” work to build a bomb ended even earlier, in 2003, the agency said.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano called the assessment “factual, technically sound and balanced.”

Under the terms of the nuclear deal reached by Iran, the United States and five other world powers, Iran still must shut off thousands of centrifuges and reduce its storehouses of enriched uranium.

Once the IAEA certifies that those and other steps have been taken, countries will begin to roll back sanctions on Iran's oil and financial sectors. That certification is not expected for months.

Critics on both sides of the aisle warned that Tuesday’s report was troublingly incomplete because Iran had seemingly tried to stonewall IAEA inspectors.  

On Wednesday, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) said it was “unacceptable that Iran failed to be fully transparent” about its nuclear work.

“IAEA’s decision to end the investigation is concerning because it’s questionable whether all of Iran’s nuclear activities were disclosed in this investigation,” she added.

Sanchez and other critics of the probe worried that the U.N.’s inability to publicly act on two Iranian ballistic missile tests sent the impression that Iran could easily cheat on its international obligations without repercussion. The missile tests did not violate the nuclear deal, U.S. officials have maintained, but likely were banned under U.N. resolutions.