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UN Talks With Iran on Enhanced Nuke Safeguards

UN nuclear watchdog agency in talks with Iran on enhanced safeguards

The United Nations nuclear watchdog agency is holding a series of talks with senior governmental officials in Iran following its call last month for enhanced inspections to guarantee the peaceful nature of the country's nuclear programme after Tehran failed to disclose certain material and activities.

One team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which held talks on 5 and 6 August in Tehran, included legal and technical experts invited by Iran to clarify aspects related to the additional protocol to comprehensive safeguards agreements that countries conclude with the agency.

A second team, of safeguards inspectors, is going to Iran in the second week of August to clarify outstanding issues and, as appropriate, will conduct verification activities over the course of several days. Iran has a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA pursuant to the global Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The Vienna-based IAEA said in a news release that it does not comment on the findings of ongoing safeguards activities. It is still in the middle of a complex verification process in Iran and will be reporting to the next meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors in September.

IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei paid a one-day visit to Tehran on 9 July in an effort to obtain an Iranian commitment to sign an additional protocol allowing for enhanced, unannounced, on-the-spot inspections.

On 19 June, the IAEA Board called on Iran to allow environmental sampling of alleged enrichment activities and agree to enhanced inspections. It urged 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 party to 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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