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Serious Concerns Over Iran’s Nuke Declaration Gaps

UN Nuclear Watchdog ‘Seriously Concerned’ Over Gaps In Iran’s Declaration

While noting with satisfaction marked progress in cooperation by Iran, the head of the United Nations atomic watchdog agency today voiced serious concern over gaps in Tehran’s declaration of nuclear activities and called on it to take the “vital” initiative to provide all relevant information fully and promptly in the coming months.

In his first briefing to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (<" http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/News/2004/bog0803.html IAEA) Governing Board since Iran signed additional safeguards aimed at preventing the development of nuclear weapons, <" http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/Statements/2004/ebsp2004n002.html Direct or-General Mohamed ElBaradei also said full cooperation was essential from countries from which nuclear technology and equipment for Tehran originated.

At the same time he welcomed the “active cooperation and openness” shown by Libya, which renounced internationally proscribed weapons in December, and called the withdrawal by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) a dangerous precedent threatening the credibility of the non-proliferation regime.

The IAEA has been heavily engaged in verifying Iran’s programme since early last year and in November strongly deplored Tehran’s past breaches of the NPT. At the time Mr. ElBaradei said the agency had no proof that Iran's activities were linked to a nuclear weapons programme and Tehran consistently denied any such intention.

Today, he told the Board in Vienna: “I am seriously concerned that Iran’s October declaration did not include any reference to its possession of P-2 centrifuge designs and related R&D (research and development), which in my view was a setback to Iran’s stated policy of transparency. This is particularly the case since the October declaration was characterized as providing ‘the full scope of Iranian nuclear activities,’ including a ‘complete centrifuge R&D chronology.’”

He noted “with satisfaction” that since October Iran had granted IAEA inspectors access to requested sites, documentation and personnel and suspended reprocessing and uranium enrichment related activities as a confidence building measure. But, he added: “It is vital that, in the coming months, Iran ensures full transparency with respect to all of its nuclear activities, by taking the initiative to provide all relevant information in full detail and in a prompt manner.”

Calling for expanded cooperation from countries where nuclear supplies originated, Mr. Elbaradei declared: “Hopefully, with no new revelations, and with satisfactory resolution of these and other remaining questions, we can look forward to a time when the confidence of the international community has been restored.”

In November the Board warned that if further serious Iranian failures came to light, it would consider all options at its disposal. These options include referring the matter to the Security Council, which can impose sanctions.

On Libya, Mr. ElBaradei said its failure over many years to declare its nuclear material and activities represented a breach of its obligation to comply with provisions of its safeguards agreement, “and its acquisition of a nuclear weapon design is clearly a matter of utmost concern.”

But he added that following Tripoli’s renunciation of weapons of mass destruction, it “has responded promptly to the Agency’s requests for information, and assisted the Agency in gaining a full picture of its nuclear programme,” and agreed to conclude an additional protocol of safeguards.

On the DPRK, Mr. ElBaradei said the IAEA had been unable to draw conclusions on its nuclear activities since Pyongyang terminated onsite agency verification activities in 2002, but he welcomed the continued six-party talks in Beijing on the nuclear issue, with the participation of China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia, the United States and the DPRK.

He also noted that the IAEA had found increasing evidence of a complex black market network in nuclear materials as part of its verification of Libyan and Iranian activities. “An important part of our investigation is to find out whether the sensitive nuclear technologies in question have been spread to any other countries or end-users,” he said.

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