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Iran report goes to Security Council, cool-head?

IAEA chief calls for ‘cool-headed’ approach as Iran report goes to Security Council

Citing outstanding questions surrounding Iran’s nuclear programme, the Director-General of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today is sending its report on the issue to the Security Council, marking a new phase in the diplomatic efforts to determine whether Tehran is trying to develop atomic weapons.

Speaking to reporters at the Vienna-based Agency, whose Board of Governors is meeting on Iran, Mohamed ElBaradei said the report would be sent “either today or tomorrow.”

The report to the Council, requested by the Board of Governors last month, points to outstanding questions about Tehran’s activities. “Although the Agency has not seen any diversion of nuclear material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, the Agency is not at this point in time in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran,” it states.

The report notes that under normal circumstances, drawing any conclusion about a country’s nuclear activities would take time, and the duration would be even longer in the case of Iran because of a number of factors, including the “undeclared nature” of Iran’s past programme. In 2003, it was discovered that Iran had carried out secret nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The report also cited the “inadequacy of information available on its centrifuge enrichment programme, the existence of a generic document related to the fabrication of nuclear weapon components, and the lack of clarification about the role of the military in Iran’s nuclear programme, including… about recent information available to the Agency concerning alleged weapon studies that could involve nuclear material.”

The report voices concern that “uncertainties related to the scope and nature of Iran’s nuclear programme have not been clarified after three years of intensive Agency verification.”

Verification, the report stresses, will require Iran’s active cooperation, including “providing the IAEA access to, and cooperation by, relevant individuals; access to documentation related to procurement and dual use equipment; and access to certain military owned workshops and R&D (research and development) locations that the Agency may need to visit in the future as part of its investigation.”

Mr. ElBaradei repeated this point in his comments to reporters, calling on Tehran to “continue to be transparent” and saying there is “complete agreement that Iran needs to go the extra mile and work with us.”

All concerned want to resolve the issue, he emphasized. “Nobody will be happier than I when we are able to conclude that all the outstanding issues in Iran’s nuclear programme are clarified,” he said. “Everyone is looking for a political settlement.”

As the report goes to the Security Council, Mr. ElBaradei said, “What we need at this stage is cool-headed approaches. We need people to lower the rhetoric. We need to continue to see how we can move forward.”

He noted that the issue has entered a “new phase of diplomacy” and said the 15-member Council would back the Agency. “The Security Council will lend its weight to the IAEA’s efforts so as to make sure Iran will work as closely as possible with us,” he said.

“The IAEA will continue to do inspections in Iran and continue to ask Iran to be as transparent as possible,” he said. “We will continue to do the verification, while the Security Council deliberates on the global picture.”

A settlement must assure Iran its peaceful right to nuclear energy while assuring the international community that Iran’s programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes, the IAEA chief stressed.

“I am still optimistic,” Mr. ElBaradei said. “I think sooner or later the parties will decide there are no other options but negotiations.”

Meanwhile in New York, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov today discussed the situation in Iran and a range of other global hotspots, including the Middle East and the Balkans, according to a read-out of the meeting provided by a UN spokesman.

Speaking to reporters, Mr. Lavrov said that on Iran’s nuclear programme, “we agreed that we had to await the outcome of the discussions in Vienna where the Governing Board of the IAEA is meeting and that we should all strive for a solution which would not endanger the ability of the IAEA to continue its work in Iran while of course making sure that there is no danger for the non-proliferation regime.”

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