Can Iran Transparency Overcome Covert Nuclear Past?

A recurrent issue regarding Iran’s nuclear programs is how to address its history of covert nuclear activities, including efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Earlier this month, 354 members of US Congress sent Secretary of State John Kerry a letter warning that “Iran’s willingness to fully reveal all aspects of its nuclear program is a fundamental test of Iran’s intention touphold a comprehensive agreement.”

But while this issue is rightly a matter of concern, it should not be a litmus test of whether a comprehensive agreement can be reached in negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1).

Ever since Iran’s clandestine nuclear program was disclosed in 2002, the United States and other major countries have said that it was, in part, a nuclear weapons program.

Iran reportedly stopped certain aspects of the program in 2003, while denying that it ever sought to develop nuclear weapons. Its unwillingness to fully disclose its past nuclear activities or to permit thorough inspection of suspect sites has helped sour its relations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the world community.

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