Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed grave concern tonight about Iran’s nuclear enrichment activities in light of news that a new uranium enrichment facility is being constructed in the country.
In a meeting with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mr. Ban emphasized that “the burden of proof is on Iran,” his spokesperson said in a statement.
The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it is seeking information and access to the new plant, which Iran has said is under construction, with further information to be provided at “an appropriate and due time.” The agency has been informed by Iran that no nuclear material has been introduced into the facility.
During his talks with Mr. Ahmadinejad, Mr. Ban repeated his call for the country to implement Security Council resolutions and cooperate with the IAEA on resolving outstanding concerns regarding its nuclear programme, urging it to “engage in constructive negotiations as promptly as possible.”
Fresh talks between Iran and other nations, including the United States, are set to kick off next week in Geneva.
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).
Tonight the Secretary-General also expressed his continuing concern about the human rights situation in Iran, particularly concerning the freedoms of association, assembly and religion.
“He underlined the need to uphold due process and transparency in the trials and treatment of post-election and other detainees,” the statement said.
Protesters took to the streets in the wake of presidential elections in June, which opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi has said was fixed in favour of Mr. Ahmadinejad.
The Secretary-General also reiterated his strong rejection of the Iranian leader’s repeated denials of the Holocaust.