UN atomic watchdog chief calls for talks to resolve Iranian nuclear issue
The head of the United Nations atomic watchdog agency has called for negotiation and mutual accommodation to achieve a long-term solution to the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme after the Security Council imposed sanctions and called for a full and sustained suspension of the country’s uranium enrichment activities.
Following Saturday’s unanimous Council vote, UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Muhamad ElBaradei issued a statement hoping “for a long-term comprehensive agreement which would allow for the development of relations and cooperation with Iran based on mutual respect and the establishment of international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.”
In previous reports, Mr. ElBaradei has noted that the IAEA was unable to conclude that there are no undeclared materials or activities in Iran’s nuclear programme, which Iran says is purely for the peaceful purpose of producing energy but which other countries including the United States maintain is aimed at making nuclear weapons.
He said the Agency would implement the relevant parts of the Council resolution, which called on the IAEA to verify the suspension of “proliferation sensitive nuclear activities,” including all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities and work on all heavy water-related projects. Enriched uranium can be used for producing both energy and bombs.
The resolution bans trade with Iran in all items, materials, equipment, goods and technology which could contribute to such activities or to the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems. States are also required to prevent the provision to Iran of any technical assistance or training, financial assistance, investment, brokering or other services.
Mr. ElBaradei was requested to report within 60 days to the Council on whether Iran has suspended enrichment activities. If that report shows that Iran has not complied, the Council threatened “further appropriate measures.”
The crisis began with the discovery in 2003 that Iran had concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Mr. ElBaradei has previously reported that while IAEA inspectors have not found evidence that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, they also cannot affirm positively that it is not doing so.