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Iran should foster environment conducive to talks

Annan encourages Iran to foster environment conducive to talks

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged the Tehran Government to foster an environment conducive to talks on Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Responding to press questions in New York, Mr. Annan recalled yesterday’s announcement by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that its Board of Government will hold a special meeting on Iran early next month.

“My own advice to the Iranians is to create an environment that will allow the negotiations to go forward,” he said.

Last week, Iran broke the IAEA seals on equipment used to produce enriched uranium, ending its suspension of those activities. Iran contends that it is only conducting research and development for peaceful purposes, but the Agency says it is unable to verify this claim.

The Secretary-General said the country’s authorities should not resume their nuclear fuel research. “We need time to build confidence and trust so that these negotiations will take place in an atmosphere which is appropriate,” he stressed.

He also voiced hope that the Iranians would return to the negotiating table “in a genuine spirit of searching for a solution, because if indeed their intention is peaceful nuclear capability, the international community in the discussions have given an assurance that they will make sure that they do have the fuel necessary.”

At the same time, he noted that as a last resort the matter would revert to the UN Security Council. “If all else fails and the process is exhausted and the issue were to come here, then the Council will have to deal with it,” he said.

Looking at the broader need to tackle nuclear arms proliferation, the Secretary-General noted that when national leaders gathered for last September’s World Summit at the UN, they were unable to endorse common language addressing the issue. “We all knew the dangers of (failing to address) non-proliferation and disarmament, but we couldn’t get a paragraph agreed, which I said was a real disappointment and a real disgrace.”

He cautioned that a concerted response is needed. “If leadership is not shown and we are not sending around the message that we mean business when we talk of nuclear non-proliferation, we mean business when we talk of disarmament, we are going to be confronted with these problems, so I would hope that all is not lost and that the Member States will still find some way, some energy and creativity in reverting to this issue of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, even during the course of this General Assembly session,” he said.

“It is not too late.”

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