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UN atomic agency chief voices concern over current stalemate with Iran

UN atomic agency chief voices concern over current stalemate with Iran

Director General Mohamed ElBaradei
The head of the United Nations atomic watchdog agency today said that he is “increasingly disturbed” by the “current stalemate and the brewing confrontation” with Iran over its nuclear programme, calling for dialogue and diplomacy to resolve the issue.

Briefing the Board of Governors of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Director Mohamed ElBaradei said that “it is incumbent on Iran to work urgently with the Agency, under a policy of full transparency and active cooperation, in order for the Agency to be able to provide assurance regarding the exclusively peaceful nature of all of Iran’s nuclear activities.”

Such assurances “would certainly help to dispel the concerns of the international community regarding Iran’s nuclear programme,” he told the 35-Member Board at its meeting in Vienna. “Transparency and cooperation by Iran would, therefore, be in the interest of not only the international community but also of Iran.”

Mr. ElBaradei said that dialogue and diplomacy are the only means to break the stalemate and defuse the confrontation.

Last month, he submitted to the Board a report on Iran’s activities covering the period since his previous account of 22 February.

“The facts on the ground indicate that Iran continues to perfect its knowledge relevant to enrichment, and to expand the capacity of its enrichment facility,” Mr. ElBaradei told the Board today regarding the report.

At the same time, he noted the IAEA has not been “able to implement the additional protocol that would enable the verification of the absence of undeclared nuclear activities.”

The deterioration of the Agency’s extent of its knowledge regarding aspects of the country’s nuclear programme is “disconcerting and regrettable,” he said.

Updating the Board on the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Mr. ElBaradei said that during his visit there in March his discussions with DPRK officials were “forward looking.”

“They were focused on the potential for re-establishing the relationship between the DPRK and the Agency,” he said. “We remain ready to begin work with the DPRK as soon as we are notified of their readiness to do so.”

Turning to in-house matters, the Director stressed to the Board that the budget of the IAEA – which marks its 50th anniversary this year – must increase to accommodate the growing workload.

“I should repeat again that the Agency’s activities cannot continue to expand at their current rate without corresponding increases in financial resources,” he said. “The idea of ‘doing more with less’ has its limits, particularly when the activities under discussion are so critical, and where cutting corners is not an option.”

He added that other resources vital to the Agency to carry out its work are badly needed as well, such as updated equipment for its essential verification and safety activities.

“This dichotomy between increased high priority activities and inadequate funding, if continued, will lead to the failure of critical IAEA functions,” Mr. ElBaradei warned.