Iran and IAEA agree to devise 'action plan' on nuclear issues
The International Atomic Energy Agency today announced that following talks in Vienna between its chief and a senior official from Tehran, the IAEA will send a team to Iran as part of efforts to resolve outstanding issues over the country's nuclear ambitions.
The announcement followed a meeting on Sunday between IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei and Dr. Ali Larijani, Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council.
“Dr. Larijani invited the IAEA to send a team to Tehran to develop an action plan for resolving outstanding issues related to Iran's past nuclear programme,” said IAEA spokesperson Melissa Fleming in a statement, which added that the Agency “intends to send a team as early as practicable.”
The two officials had previously announced that Iran and the IAEA would start work on drafting a plan of action to address all outstanding issues regarding Iran's nuclear programme, which Tehran says is entirely peaceful but which other countries charge is driven by military ambitions.
Earlier this month, Mr. ElBaradei told the IAEA Board of Directors that Iran “continues to perfect its knowledge relevant to enrichment, and to expand the capacity of its enrichment facility.” He also noted that the Agency still lacks the capacity to verify the absence of undeclared nuclear activities.
The new plan of action would be part of a broader political understanding that Mr. Larijani will discuss with the European Union negotiator Javier Solana, the IAEA said in a news release.
“I hope that in the next few weeks we should be able to start drawing a plan of action which I hope we should be able to conclude within two months and then start with the implementation of such a plan,” said Dr. ElBaradei.
“I welcome this development because, as I have been saying for the last couple of years, this is key to our ability to be able to provide assurance about Iran's nuclear programme.”
At a press conference held at the IAEA's headquarters in Vienna after a two-hour meeting on Friday, Dr. ElBaradei said that he and Mr. Larijani had a “good exchange” on how the negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany should be revived.
“We will continue to work together on the two fronts of verification and diplomacy. Establishing the facts on the ground, which is our job, would enable the development of a diplomatic solution,” he said.
In December, 2006, the Security Council adopted a resolution banning trade with Iran in all items, materials, equipment, goods and technology which could contribute to the country's enrichment-related, reprocessing or heavy water-related activities, or to the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems. It tightened the measures in March, banning arms sales and expanding the freeze on assets.