Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today he is keeping an eye on the situation in Iran, where President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory over opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi in last week’s election is being contested.
“I have been closely following the situation, particularly right after the election, on the demonstrations and controversies,” Mr. Ban told reporters in New York. “At the same time, I have also taken note of the instruction by the religious leaders that there should be an investigation into this issue.
“In any country, when there is an election, the genuine will of the people should be reflected and respected in a most transparent and fair and objective manner,” he added.
According to media reports, hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in the past several hours following the announcement of the election results. Mr. Mousavi has said he believes the vote was fixed in favour of President Ahmadinejad, while the incumbent said the vote was fair.
Meanwhile, the head of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today urged the Government of Iran to allow better monitoring of its disputed nuclear programme, and to accept a new initiative of the United States to engage in direct dialogue.
Iran’s nuclear programme – which its officials have stated is for peaceful purposes, but some other countries contend is driven by military ambitions – has been a matter of international concern since the discovery in 2003 that the country had concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
In a speech to the Agency’s Board of Governors in Vienna, Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said that Iran has not implemented any of the measures called for by the Security Council and by the Board.
“And there has been no movement by Iran on outstanding issues which need to be clarified to exclude the possibility of military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme,” he added.
“Without implementation by Iran of the additional protocol and the required safeguards measures, as well as the clarification of outstanding issues, the Agency will not be able to provide assurances about the absence of undeclared nuclear activities in Iran.”
At the same time, Mr. ElBaradei said he is encouraged by the new initiative of the US to engage Iran in direct dialogue, without preconditions and on the basis of mutual respect. “This gives reason for hope that a genuine dialogue may lead to a comprehensive settlement of many security, political and economic issues spanning over 50 years.”
In a related development, the head of the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme today updated the 15-member body on the panel’s latest work, including the efforts of States to implement those measures.
Ambassador Yukio Takasu of Japan presented the report, which covers the period 11 March to 15 June, of the committee established by resolution 1737 of December 2006, which banned 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.