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Iran must heed nuclear message, says Goff

Iran must heed nuclear message, says Goff

Iran must heed the international community's strong message and prove it is not developing nuclear weapons, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said in Vienna last night.

Speaking immediately after the Iranian delegate at the International Atomic Energy Agency's General Conference (IAEA), Mr Goff said the agency must be able to verify that Iran’s nuclear power programme did not involve the diversion of nuclear material for nuclear weapons.

Last Friday the IAEA board passed without dissent a resolution that gave Iran seven weeks to dispel such concerns. Failure to comply could lead to Iran being reported to the United Nations Security Council for possible economic sanctions.

“Iran must cooperate fully and urgently with the IAEA and work in a transparent way. We urge Iran to immediately sign and implement the Additional Protocol, allowing the IAEA to independently assess Iran’s nuclear programme.”

Mr Goff also warned of the consequences of a potential proliferation of nuclear weapons, with North Korea having proclaimed nuclear capabilities and then withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

“This development destabilises the Korean Peninsula and is a threat to regional security. It risks provoking others in the region into developing nuclear weapons of their own. If this were to happen, the same possibility of nuclear confrontation which currently exists between India and Pakistan could develop,” Mr Goff said.

“New Zealand strongly supports the multi-party dialogue hosted by China, which aims to persuade North Korea to permanent abandon its nuclear weapons programme.”

Mr Goff also told the IAEA conference that the NPT was not only about states agreeing to forego developing nuclear weapons.

“It is also about those states which already have those weapons agreeing to give them up.

“Calls by states already in possession of nuclear weapons for other states not to develop them would carry more authority if they were accompanied by greater progress towards disarmament.

“The ongoing development of strategic plans which appear to include the possible use of nuclear weapons is a critical concern. Reports of consideration being given to research into new types of nuclear weapons contradict the NPT commitments, and undermine efforts to achieve universality of the Treaty.”

Mr Goff, speaking on behalf of New Zealand as the current chair of the Pacific Forum, also challenged the conference to put in place a regulatory regime for transporting radioactive material which was as strict as possible in terms of safety standards, and which included a comprehensive liability regime.

“I welcome the IAEA’s conference in July which called for dialogue between coastal and shipping states and the setting up of a working group on liability.”

Mr Goff emphasised the urgency of safeguarding against nuclear materials or weapons falling into the hands of terrorist groups, and commended the IAEA for playing a key role in addressing this issue.

“Initiatives such as the Nuclear Security Fund, to which New Zealand is a contributor, and the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources, establish practical measures for guarding against the threat of nuclear terrorism,” Mr Goff said.

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