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Iran: Seals Broken At Uranium Conversion Plant

Iran: UN Nuclear Watchdog Confirms Seals Broken At Uranium Conversion Plant

The United Nations atomic watchdog entrusted with curbing the spread of nuclear weapons confirmed today that Iran had broken all the seals at a uranium plant after the agency installed its inspection system, but stressed that its supervision did not imply an endorsement of the resumption of uranium enrichment and conversion.

The move came as the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors discussed Iran’s decision to end its voluntary suspension of uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities during negotiations with European countries on its programme, which it insists is for peaceful energy production but which the United States and some other nations see as an effort to produce nuclear weapons.

Iran suspended activities in November during talks with the three European Union (EU) countries, known as the EU-3 – France, Germany and the United Kingdom – aimed at reaching a negotiated solution to issues arising out of the disclosure two years ago that it had for almost two decades concealed its nuclear activities in breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The installation of IAEA cameras for breaking the seals and its surveillance of operations are part of NPT safeguards aimed at ensuring that materials and equipment are not diverted to weapons production, and although Iran’s resumption under these conditions does not breach the treaty, the agency has urged it to continue the suspension.

Enriched uranium can be used for peaceful purposes such as generating energy or for making nuclear weapons and the EU-3 have said a resumption of nuclear activities would mean the end of the negotiations.

“The Board has clearly stated in the past that although suspension of enrichment related and conversion activities in the Islamic Republic of Iran is a voluntary decision, it is nonetheless essential for confidence-building and for resolution of outstanding issues relevant to Iran's past undeclared nuclear activities,” IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said yesterday before the start of the Board’s session.

“I don't believe that any of these issues can be resolved outside the negotiating process. Confidence-building is a long-term process and requires a dialogue,” he added of the resumption of activities at the Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) in Isfahan.

“I would request all parties to exercise maximum restraint, to desist from taking any unilateral action and to try to go back to where we were a week ago, basically, continue to work with the Agency to clarify outstanding verification issues and continue to work with Europe on a long-term framework agreement by which Iran's relationship with the West will be normalized.”

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