At the end of August it was reported1  that Fereydoun Abbasi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, had suggested that “Iran is ready for increased cooperation with the IAEA on the condition the U.N. watchdog limit the number of points it wants clarified,” adding “As long as we don’t receive these questions in an official manner, we cannot respond.”

On September 5 Dr. Abbasi told the semi-official ISNA news agency, “We propose that the agency [IAEA] keep Iran’s nuclear program and activities under full supervision for five years provided that sanctions against Iran are lifted.”2 However, he didn’t explain what he meant by “full supervision.”
 
The day after ISNA published a short and little noticed message3 quoting Fereydoun Abbasi as saying “Iran has fully cooperated with the IAEA so far and would accept no more obligations” and “our cooperation is limited to the regulations and standards of the IAEA, providing that it respects Iran’s rights and does not include the implementation of additional protocol cooperation.”
 
The change of tone in a week’s time is quite remarkable. First Dr. Abbasi suggests that Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA could be increased  (admitting thereby that it is far from perfect) and that he would be prepared to clarify a number of points raised by the IAEA as long as they are limited and in writing. A week later he declares that Iran has fully cooperated with the IAEA so far, and would accept no more obligations, likely meaning not even answering the questions raised by the IAEA concerning “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear activities.
 
Dr. Abbasi suggested on September 5 that Iran would accept full IAEA supervision of its nuclear activities during five years provided sanctions against Iran are lifted. This again acknowledges that Iran is not fully cooperating with the IAEA and doesn’t meet the repeated requests of the IAEA Board of Governors that Iran “implement transparency measures which extend beyond the formal requirements of the Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol, and include access to individuals, documentation relating to procurement, dual use equipment, certain military owned workshops and research and development locations.”4 
 
The day after, the same Dr. Abbasi rejects the idea of accepting more obligations and the implementation of the Additional Protocol.
 
What has happened internally in the meantime will likely remain a mystery, but it doesn’t bode well for the future and the chances of success of the recent Russian initiative. 
 
 
1. “Iran atomic chief says fuel swap talks finished, will deal with IAEA”, The Daily Star of Lebanon, 30 August 2011. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2011/Aug-30/147546-iran-atomic-chief-says-fuel-swap-talks-finished-will-deal-with-iaea.ashx#axzz1XRpS5zru
 
2. “Iran proposes full IAEA supervision of its nuclear program for 5 years if sanctions lifted”, AP, 5 September 2011. http://ca.news.yahoo.com/iran-proposes-full-iaea-supervision-nuclear-program-5-194212521.html
 
3. “Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA has exceeded the standards limit : Abbasi », ISNA, 6 September 2006.
 
4. IAEA Board Resolution adopted on 24 September 2005, GOV/2005/77. http://isna.ir/isna/NewsView.aspx?ID=News1841312&Lang=E