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Atomic Watchdog Seeks Nuke Safeguards From Iran

UN Atomic Watchdog Chief Seeks Additional Nuclear Safeguards From Iran

The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency today sought to persuade Iran's leaders to allow enhanced inspections of their nuclear programme, including environmental samplings, following the country's failure to disclose certain nuclear material and activities.

The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (<"">IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, first met with Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi in Tehran before seeing President Mohammed Khatami in an effort to answer questions about Iran's nuclear programme after an official agency report detailed the earlier failures.

Mr. ElBaradei, whose one-day visit is at the invitation of the Iranian authorities, is trying to obtain a commitment from Iran to sign an additional protocol in connection with IAEA safeguards agreements as required by the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which would allow for enhanced, unannounced, on-the-spot inspections.

He was returning to Vienna tonight, but a senior team of experts was staying on in Tehran for technical talks with their Iranian counterparts over the next several days.

On 19 June, the IAEA Board called on Iran to allow environmental sampling of alleged enrichment activities and agree to enhanced inspections after Mr. ElBaradei reported the earlier failures.

He noted at the time that corrective actions were being taken in cooperation with the Iranian authorities, but called on the country to "conclude and bring into force an additional protocol at an early date, in order to enhance the Agency's ability to provide credible assurances regarding the peaceful nature of its nuclear activities."

The Board then adopted a statement urging Iran to "promptly and unconditionally conclude and implement an additional protocol to its Safeguards Agreement, in order to enhance the Agency's ability to provide credible assurances regarding the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear activities, particularly the absence of undeclared material and activities."

Iran is a signatory of the NPT, which the IAEA is entrusted with verifying. The additional protocols aim to enhance IAEA's ability to provide "credible, comprehensive assurances" regarding all NPT States. So far only 35 countries have brought additional protocols into force.

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