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UN nuclear watchdog deplores Iran’s breaches

UN nuclear watchdog deplores Iran’s breaches, warns of action on future violations

The United Nations nuclear watchdog agency today strongly deplored Iran’s past breaches of a safeguards agreement aimed at preventing the development of nuclear weapons and, while welcoming Tehran’s recent cooperation, warned that further serious failures would bring an immediate response.

A resolution adopted by the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna called on Iran to urgently complete all necessary corrective measures and fully implement its commitment to full disclosure to ensure that nuclear activities and materials are not being diverted to non-peaceful purposes.

The Board’s action followed a report from IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei on Iran’s breaches over an extended period of time of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which it is a signatory, including its failure to report efforts to enrich uranium, a potential ingredient for nuclear weapons.

“While much progress has been achieved, much work remains to be done,” Mr. ElBaradei told a news conference after the Board meeting. “This is work in progress. We naturally still have much verification work to do before we can provide the assurances expected by the international community, specifically that all nuclear activities in Iran are fully declared and are exclusively for peaceful purposes.

“These assurances could clearly help build confidence and could open the way for a new chapter of co-operation between Iran and the international community. Our success and pace of progress in generating the required assurance will, however, depend on Iran’s full co-operation and transparency; the ball is now in Iran’s court to demonstrate through verification the peaceful nature of its programme,” he added.

He applauded the Board’s action as “a good day for peace because the Board decided to continue to make every effort to use verification and diplomacy to resolve questions about Iran’s nuclear programme; a good day for multilateralism because the international community has decided to stand as one in addressing what is clearly a very critical issue, with serious implications; a good day for non-proliferation because of the clear message coming from the international community that the integrity of the nuclear non-proliferation regime must be respected and upheld.”

In a warning of a serious response to further breaches, the resolution declared that the Board “decides that, should any further serious Iranian failures come to light, the Board of Governors would meet immediately to consider, in the light of the circumstances and of advice from the Director General, all options at its disposal.”

These options include referring the matter to the Security Council, which can impose sanctions.

Endorsing Mr. ElBaradei’s call for “a particularly robust verification system,” the resolution “notes with satisfaction” Iran’s decision to ratify an Additional Protocol providing for enhanced, unannounced and on-the-spot inspections and “welcomes” its decision to suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.

It noted “with the gravest concern that Iran enriched uranium and separated plutonium in undeclared facilities, in the absence of IAEA safeguards” and noted “with equal concern” a pattern of past concealment and contradictions between Iran’s latest disclosures and information previously provided.

But the Board also acknowledged Tehran’s reaffirmation of its decision “to provide a full picture of its nuclear activities and…to implement a policy of cooperation and full transparency.”

It requested Mr. ElBaradei to submit a comprehensive report on implementation of the resolution by mid-February 2004.

In his most recent report to the Board, the latest since the IAEA first raised concerns publicly in June about Tehran’s nuclear activities, Mr. ElBaradei noted that “we have no proof to date that Iran’s past undeclared activities have been linked to a nuclear weapons programme.”

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