U.S. sets March deadline for Iran's compliance with IAEA

The United States set a March deadline on Thursday for Iran to begin cooperating in substance with the International Atomic Energy Agency's investigation into the military dimensions of the nation's nuclear program.

Robert Wood, the U.S. diplomat to the board of the U.N. nuclear agency, requested that IAEA's director-general discuss in the next quarterly report if Tehran has taken substantive steps to address military concerns. The IAEA has been stonewalled in attempts to gain access to Iranian officials, sites and documents it needs for the inquiry, Reuters reports.

"If by March Iran has not begun substantive cooperation with the IAEA, the United States will work with other board members to pursue appropriate board action, and would urge the board to consider reporting this lack of progress to the U.N. Security Council," Wood said, according to Reuters. "Iran cannot be allowed to indefinitely ignore its obligations...Iran must act now, in substance."

Iran was reported to the U.N. Security Council over its nuclear program by the IAEA in 2006 and was hit with U.N. sanctions. In 2011, the IAEA published a report with intelligence that indicated past and possibly continuing research in Iran that could connect to nuclear weapons.

Iran rejects suspicions that it is covertly developing an atomic bomb. Its refusal to curb nuclear work and lack of openness with the IAEA led to tough Western punishments and a threat of Israeli pre-emptive military strikes, Reuters reports.