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UN Atomic Watchdog Urges Iran’s Co-Operation

UN Atomic Watchdog Urges Iran’s Accelerated Cooperation On Nuclear Programme

The head of the United Nations atomic watchdog agency charged with preventing the spread of nuclear weapons today called on Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment activities “in light of serious international concerns” about the nature of its nuclear programme.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Director-General, Mohamed ElBaradei, also reported that he could give not assurances about the non-diversion of nuclear material in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), which “continues to pose a serious challenge” to non-proliferation since it has not allowed verification activities for nearly two years.

He also stressed that, while the Agency’s efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism have continued to accelerate and expand, “clearly, the circumstances that first led to a plan for protection against nuclear and radiological terrorism have not diminished.”

While voicing satisfaction over progress in understanding the nature of Iran’s nuclear programme in connection with its legal obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Mr. ElBaradei noted that in June the country reversed its decisions to suspend some enrichment related activities undertaken as a confidence building measure.

“I have continued to stress to Iran that, during this delicate phase while work is still in progress to verify its past nuclear programme, and in light of serious international concerns surrounding that programme, it should do its utmost to build the required confidence through the Agency,” he said in his introductory statement to the opening of the Agency’s Board of Governors meeting in Vienna.

“I would urge Iran, therefore, to continue to accelerate its cooperation, pursuing a policy of maximum transparency and confidence building, so that we can bring the remaining outstanding issues to resolution within the next few months and provide assurance to the international community,” he added.

Enriched uranium can be used to make nuclear weapons and the IAEA has strongly deplored Iranian breaches of the NPT, which included a long-running failure to disclose past activities. Mr. ElBaradei has repeatedly said the Agency had no proof Iran’s activities were linked to a nuclear weapons programme and Tehran has consistently denied any such intention.

Today he noted that no additional undeclared Iranian activities had come to light since his last report to the Board in June. Iran has also provided new information in response to Agency requests, although in certain instances the process needed to be accelerated, he said.

Progress was also made towards ascertaining the source of high enriched uranium (HEU) found at the Kalaye Electric Company and Natanz, in part due to the cooperation provided by other States, and it appears plausible that this HEU contamination may not have resulted from enrichment by Iran at these locations. But the IAEA is continuing to pursue the identification of sources and reasons for such contamination.

On Libya, which in December renounced all programmes leading to the production of internationally proscribed weapons, Mr. ElBaradei reported that the North African country had provided prompt access to locations requested, made senior personnel available and taken corrective actions as required by its NPT safeguards agreement. Verification activities confirmed that for many years Libya had pursued a clandestine programme of uranium conversion and enrichment, he added.

On the Republic of Korea (ROK), which last month told the IAEA that scientists had produced a minute amount of enriched uranium without government knowledge during vapour laser isotope separation experiments, Mr. ElBaradei said the Agency would continue its investigations and had received full cooperation.

But, he added: “It is a matter of serious concern that the conversion and enrichment of uranium and the separation of plutonium were not reported to the Agency as required by the ROK safeguards agreement.”

On the Middle East he regretted that there had been no progress in consultations with the various states on the application of full scope safeguards to all nuclear activities there.

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