A visit by the head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to Iran to resolve outstanding issues over the country’s nuclear programme has concluded, with the agency and Tehran agreeing on the next steps.
During the two-day visit, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei met with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, among other senior officials, and held discussions on how to speed up the implementation of safeguards and on confidence-building measures, the agency said in a press release.
The progress made in implementing a work plan decided upon between the IAEA and Tehran last August was noted during the talks. An agreement was also reached on a time line for implementing the remaining verification issues specified in the August work plan, under which implementation of this plan would be completed in the next four weeks.
While in the country, Iran gave the IAEA information on the country’s research development activities on a new generation of centrifuges.
Mr. ElBaradei – accompanied on his trip by Ollie Heinonen, Deputy Director General for Safeguards and Vilmos Cserveny, Director for External Relations and Policy Coordination – also discussed the importance of putting the Additional Protocol and other confidence-building measures called for by the Security Council into place.
The country’s nuclear programme – which Iranian authorities have stated is for peaceful purposes, but other countries contend is driven by military ambitions – has been a matter of international concern since 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).
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.
However, a United States intelligence report released late last year concluded that there has been no ongoing nuclear weapons programme in Iran since the fall of 2003, which Mr. ElBaradei said tallies with the findings of the IAEA.