UN nuclear agency board endorses Iran deal

VIENNA (AP) — Leading nations of the U.N. atomic agency on Friday unanimously endorsed the agency's role as the organization monitoring Iran's compliance with a landmark nuclear deal, and its head said he was encouraged by their readiness to fund the operation.

Iran is to curb its nuclear activities under the terms of a Nov. 24 deal agreed with six world powers, and both sides agreed then that the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency should ensure that Tehran is abiding by its commitments.

Speaking to reporters, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said that the agency's 35-nation board "expressed its full support and gave its endorsement." Amano opened the session by urging board members to come up with the approximately 5.5 million euros ($7.5 million) the agency will need in outside funding for the mission. He said afterward that 10 nations had pledged financial backing, with some naming concrete amounts he did not specify.

He said he was confident that the agency will meet its funding goal. Among the countries coming forward was the United States. U.S. chief IAEA delegate Joseph Macmanus said Washington intended to make "an appropriate financial contribution."

The interim deal took effect Monday, when IAEA inspectors verified that Iran unplugged banks of centrifuges involved in its most sensitive uranium enrichment work on Monday as part of its commitment to limit activities that could be used to make nuclear weapons. In response, the United States and the European Union partially lifted economic sanctions.

Both sides aim to use the six-month timeframe of the Nov. 24 pact to work on a final agreement. Iran says all of its atomic activities are peaceful but the United States and other skeptical nations seek permanent curbs on Tehran's atomic programs. Iran in turn wants a total lifting of international sanctions enacted since 2006 that have progressively crippled its economy.

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