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UN watchdog warns Iran against nuclear activities pending enhanced surveillance

UN watchdog warns Iran against nuclear activities pending enhanced surveillance

The United Nations agency entrusted with curbing the spread of nuclear weapons today again called on Iran not to resume any uranium activities pending the installation of surveillance equipment by the middle of next week.

Iran, which last year voluntarily suspended all enrichment and reprocessing activities, has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it was resuming uranium conversion activities at its facility in Isfahan as of 1 August. Enriched uranium can be used both for generating energy and making nuclear weapons.

“We have made it clear that we need until the middle of next week to get our surveillance equipment in place before any seals could be cut and nuclear activities started,” IAEA Spokesperson Melissa Fleming said. “The Agency calls on Iran again not to start any activities in Isfahan before the IAEA inspection system is in place.”

The seals and surveillance are part of IAEA safeguards to ensure that nuclear materials are not diverted to weapons production in conformity with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which Iran has signed.

In 2003 the IAEA determined that Iran had for almost two decades concealed its nuclear activities in breach of its NPT obligations. Several countries, including the United States, insist that the oil-producing country is seeking nuclear weapons, but Iran maintains that its nuclear programme is solely for electrical energy production.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday called on Iran not to restart its nuclear activities before receiving the latest European proposals aimed at finding a diplomatic solution to the issue.

The three European Union countries involved, Britain, France and Germany, have said they will seek a special session of the IAEA Board of Governors, who can refer the matter to the UN Security Council where political and economic sanctions could be imposed. They warned that any Iranian resumption would end the negotiations.