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Hobbs Welcomes Iran's signing of nuclear protocol


Iran's nuclear programme

Disarmament and Arms Control Minister Marian Hobbs has welcomed Iran's signing of an additional protocol to its Nuclear Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna overnight.

Marian Hobbs conveyed New Zealand's positive views to the new Iranian Ambassador, Mr Kambiz Sheikh Hassani, when he called on her yesterday.

"Iran's increased level of cooperation with the IAEA is very encouraging, and I commend Iran for this further significant step towards building international confidence in its nuclear activities and intentions," Marian Hobbs said.

Implementing an additional protocol to Iran's existing Safeguards Agreement will give the IAEA the power to carry out unannounced and unlimited inspections for nuclear material and activities, should the agency deem this necessary. Under the current agreement, the IAEA is authorised only to inspect designated declared nuclear facilities, and must notify Iran in advance of any inspections.

At last month’s IAEA Board of Governors meeting, Iran undertook to conclude an additional protocol as soon as possible, and to act meanwhile as if one were in place. This followed revelations that Iran's nuclear programme had extended over the past 18 years, and had involved many activities undeclared to the IAEA under the existing Safeguards Agreement.

"New Zealand considers that the additional protocol has now become the verification standard to assure the international community that nuclear materials are being used only for peaceful purposes, particularly in countries which have advanced nuclear programmes," Marian Hobbs said. "New Zealand has had an additional protocol in place with the IAEA since September 1998.

"We need to acknowledge the serious nature of Iran's nuclear history, while finding a way to move forward with confidence. Today's signature, together with Iran's recent full disclosures to the IAEA and its agreement with France, Germany and the United Kingdom to suspend its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities, provides a good opportunity to draw a line under the past and start a new chapter of cooperation.

"The recent positive progress between Iran and the IAEA shows the multilateral system working as it should and gives confidence to countries like New Zealand which rely on the IAEA's technical expertise and professionalism on nuclear matters."

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