Security Council to consider Iran’s nuclear programme tomorrow

2 May 2006
Security Council President Amb. Basile Ikouebe

The United Nations Security Council will tomorrow begin considering Iran’s refusal to suspend uranium enrichment or provide the transparency necessary to determine whether its nuclear programme is purely for peaceful energy purposes as the Governments says, or for producing nuclear weapons as other countries contend.

“We’ll be looking at it tomorrow and we’ll see what action needs to be taken,” Council president for May, Ambassador Basile Ikouebe of the Republic of Congo, told a news briefing today, referring to the report that the 15-member body had requested from the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The report, sent to the Council on Friday, notes that existing gaps in knowledge about the programme “continue to be a matter of concern,” and stresses that any progress “requires full transparency and active cooperation by Iran,” which concealed its nuclear activities for nearly 20 years in breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Mr. Ikouebe said the Council was following with interest today’s consultations on the issue in Paris among the body’s five permanent members, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany, and will decide later whether to summon IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei for talks.

Earlier this year, the IAEA referred the matter to the Council, which can impose sanctions, after Mr. ElBaradei had repeatedly reported that although the Agency had not seen any diversion of material to nuclear weapons or other explosive devices, it was still not able to conclude that there were no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran.

Iran says its activities are solely for energy purposes but the United States and other countries insist it is clandestinely seeking to produce nuclear weapons. Last August, Iran rescinded its voluntary suspension of nuclear fuel conversion, which can produce the enriched uranium necessary either for nuclear power generation or for nuclear weapons.

Outlining the Council’s overall programme for the month, Mr. Ikouebe said much of its work would be taken up with African priorities “not solely because I’m African but because we will be looking at crises which are deemed to be the most serious in the world.”

He cited first and foremost the conflict in Sudan’s western Darfur region and the possible transition in six months’ time to a UN force there depending on the outcome of peace talks now taking place in Abuja, Nigeria. He noted other deadlines, too, such as elections to be held in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), now slated for July, and those scheduled for Côte d'Ivoire in October.

Other issues he mentioned included the Middle East. He also said he would continue consultations undertaken by his predecessors on a successor to Secretary-General Kofi Annan whose term ends on 31 December with the aim of electing a UN chief by September or October.

The Council President said there were questions on the table about the geographical rotation of the post, which this time falls to Asia, and whether there should be other criteria. Speaking in the name of his country he said Congo was faithful to the principle of geographical rotation.

“We support a candidate from Asia, we shouldn’t change the rules of the game; the rules of the game have to be set before the process gets underway; we promised that it was their turn now,” he added.

 

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