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Iran: calls for more transparency on nuclear prog.

Iran: UN atomic watchdog calls for more transparency on nuclear programme

The head of the United Nations agency entrusted with curbing the spread of nuclear weapons has called on Iran to show greater transparency so as to provide assurances that its programme is solely for peaceful purposes, despite good progress made in correcting its past breaches of international agreements.

“Two decades of concealed activities have created a situation that makes it imperative for the Agency´s investigation to go beyond the confines of the safeguards agreement and the additional protocol,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei told the opening session yesterday of an IAEA Board of Governors meeting.

In a later press statement Mr. ElBaradei said: “With regard to Iran, I think, regrettably, we are going through a period of confrontation and political brinkmanship.

“We are not yet in a position to say that all nuclear material and activities in Iran have been declared to us. As I´ve been saying, the jury is still out on this issue and the more transparency we receive from Iran, the more we will be in position to come to a conclusion on this particular issue,” he added.

“I’d like to see visits to certain facilities, I’d like to see documents about their past offers on enrichment produced, I’d like to interview a number of people.”

In his statement to the Vienna-based Board, Mr. ElBaradei stressed the need for further data on centrifuge enrichment for which the IAEA has made repeated requests, but he said progress here had been slow. Enriched uranium can be used either for the peaceful production of nuclear energy or for making nuclear weapons.

Iran's nuclear programme has been a matter of concern since 2003, when the IAEA determined that the country had for almost two decades concealed its nuclear activities in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Iran insists its programme is for peaceful energy production only but some countries, including the United States, say is part of an effort to produce nuclear weapons.

Mr. ElBaradei noted that Iran continues to fulfil its obligations under the safeguards agreement and an additional protocol by providing timely access to nuclear material, facilities and other locations.

“This is, however, a special verification case that requires additional transparency measures,” he said, stressing that it was essential that the IAEA be able “to reconstruct the history and nature of all aspects of Iran´s past nuclear activities, and to compensate for the confidence deficit created.

“I therefore call on Iran to expand the transparency and confidence building measures it has already provided. By promptly responding to these Agency requests, Iran would well serve both its interests and those of the international community,” he added.

“The more thoroughly we are able to clarify all of Iran´s past nuclear activities, the more we will be in a position to understand and confirm the nature of the programme,” he said. Good progress had been made since October 2003 in some aspects such as those related to uranium conversion, laser enrichment, fuel fabrication and heavy water, which are now being followed up as routine safeguards implementation matters.

He also noted good progress since last November on the origin of low enriched uranium (LEU) and high enriched uranium (HEU) particle contamination found at various locations in Iran with the cooperation of Pakistan. “The results of our environmental sample analysis tend, on balance, to support Iran´s statements about the foreign origin of most of the observed HEU contamination,” he said.

But regarding the chronology of Iran´s centrifuge enrichment, progress has been slow, and the Agency has made repeated requests for additional information. “The Agency´s successful verification of the scope and chronology of Iran´s centrifuge enrichment activities will also be essential to the resolution of the remaining LEU contamination issues,” he added.

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