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Iran Takes Steps 'In Right Direction'

Iran Takes Steps 'In Right Direction' On Nuclear Issue But Iaea Still Cannot Clarify Intent, Agency Chief Says

New York, Nov 23 2006 11:00PM

Iran has agreed to a request by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to provide access to materials related to its uranium enrichment activities, but cooperation is still too limited for any determination regarding its nuclear ambitions, the head of the Agency told its Board of Governors in Vienna today.

"I have received in recent days communications from Iran, in which it agreed to an Agency request to take further environmental samples from the equipment already sampled at a technical university," said Director General Mohamed ElBaradei. "It also agreed to provide access to the operating records of the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant."

Calling these "steps in the right direction," he stressed that the sooner Iran takes the remaining transparency measures and addresses the outstanding issues, the earlier the Agency would be "in a position to provide the needed assurances - assurances that are key to restoring international confidence regarding the scope and nature of Iran´s nuclear programme."

In July, the Security Council adopted a resolution calling on Iran to take steps including allowing the IAEA to clarify all outstanding issues relating to Iran´s nuclear programme, and re-establishing full and sustained suspension of all its enrichment related and reprocessing activities.

"I am still hopeful that, through dialogue between Iran and its partners, conditions will be created to achieve a comprehensive solution that addresses the respective concerns of all parties," said Mr. ElBaradei, who also confirmed that Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activities and the IAEA has not been able to make any further progress on resolving the outstanding issues.

"This is due to the decision by Iran to limit its cooperation with the Agency to the implementation of the safeguards agreement, and to link any further cooperation - particularly the needed transparency
- to the ongoing consideration of Iran´s nuclear programme by the Security Council," he said, voicing concern that the Agency cannot advance its efforts to confirm the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran.

Turning to another hotspot, he expressed regret over the reported nuclear test carried out last month by Pyongyang. "The breaking of a de-facto global moratorium on nuclear explosive testing that has been in place for nearly a decade is a serious challenge to the nuclear non-proliferation regime," he said, supporting the Security Council's demand for DPRK to abandon its nuclear weapons programme in a verifiable manner.

The test by the DPRK underscores the urgent need to establish a universal ban on nuclear testing in general as well as the urgency of finding a negotiated solution to the current situation regarding the country´s nuclear programme, he said, pledging the IAEA's support towards this end.

He also reported on the IAEA technical cooperation programme assisting States in making use of nuclear technology for development. He said most of the activities were focused on health as well as food and agriculture. "Other important programme areas include nuclear power, radioisotope production, and a variety of other applications, as well as assistance across the full range of safety aspects," he said.

Ends

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