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Iran committed many breaches of nuclear treaty

Iran committed many breaches of nuclear treaty but now cooperating – UN

Iran has committed many breaches of its obligations under a safeguards agreement aimed at preventing the development of nuclear weapons but has already taken or is taking corrective action, the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency said today, indicating that he favoured a diplomatic solution.

“In view of Iran’s past record of concealment, we expect that it will take some time and much verification effort before confidence can be built and the conclusion reached that Iran’s programme has been fully declared and is exclusively for peaceful purposes,” the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, told a meeting of the Board of Governors in Vienna.

But he added that as stated in his report to the Board on the issue, the latest since the IAEA first raised concerns publicly in June about Tehran’s failure to report certain materials and activities, “we have no proof to date that Iran’s past undeclared activities have been linked to a nuclear weapons programme.”

The Board is to decide what action to take on Iran’s breaches of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which it is a signatory, including its failure to report efforts to enrich uranium. In cases of serious violations the IAEA can refer the matter to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions, but Mr. ElBaradei indicated that he favoured diplomacy.

“The report before you is factual and comprehensive,” he said. “It is intended to enable the Board to exercise its responsibilities, prerogatives and options. I trust that in doing so you will continue to foster the joint efforts of Member States and the Secretariat to do their utmost to ensure full respect for non-proliferation obligations, primarily through verification and diplomacy. In the case of Iran, we have made a good start, but we need to stay the course.”

Noting that the IAEA now knew much more about Iran’s programme than ever before, Mr. ElBaradei said: “Our efforts to verify the programme, however, have also revealed a deliberate counter-effort, that spanned many years, to conceal material, facilities and activities that were required to have been declared under the safeguards agreement – material, facilities and activities that covered the entire spectrum of the nuclear fuel cycle, including experiments in enrichment and reprocessing.

“This has inevitably resulted in many breaches and failures on the part of Iran to comply with its obligations under its safeguards agreement. I am pleased to note that corrective actions have already been taken or are being taken. However, these breaches and failures are, of themselves, a matter of deep concern, and run counter to both the letter and the spirit of the safeguards agreement,” he added.

Mr. ElBaradei noted a new spirit of “active cooperation and openness” on the part of Iran over the past month and that it “has assured us that it has now committed itself to a policy of full disclosure.” He also noted that Tehran recently acceded to demands to sign an additional protocol allowing enhanced, unannounced and on-the-spot inspections and to suspend all uranium enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.

But he added: “Our work in Iran is very much a work in progress, and one of the urgent tasks ahead of us is to verify the origin of the high enriched uranium particles found at a number of locations in Iran. This will require, as stated in the report, full co-operation by a number of States from which certain equipment and components originated.”

On the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), which withdrew from the NPT last December, Mr. ElBaradei said the situation “continues to pose a serious and immediate challenge to the nuclear non-proliferation regime.” Because of the resulting withdrawal of IAEA officials he said he could not provide any assurance about the non-diversion of nuclear material.

He said he had continued to emphasize the need for a comprehensive settlement of the Korean crisis again through a combination of verification and diplomacy, “and it is my hope that the six-party talks will lead to such a settlement.”

“I have also continued to urge that any future settlement ensure, inter alia, the return of the DPRK to the nuclear non-proliferation regime, and provide the Agency with the authority necessary for it to provide credible, comprehensive assurances regarding the nature of the nuclear programme in the DPRK,” he added.

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