UN atomic watchdog announces draft deal on Iran’s nuclear fuel

21 October 2009

Nearly three days of talks supported by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) wrapped up today with a draft agreement on how to provide Iran with fuel for a civilian nuclear research facility.

Nearly three days of talks supported by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) wrapped up today with a draft agreement on how to provide Iran with fuel for a civilian nuclear research facility.

Those taking part in the discussions at the IAEA’s Vienna headquarters – Iran, France, Russia and the United States – have until Friday to approve of the draft text, which is a “balanced approach on how to move forward,” the agency’s Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei, told reporters.

He expressed optimism that the four nations would endorse the draft agreement, which would be a “very important confidence-building measure that can defuse the crisis that has been going on for a number of years and open space for negotiations.”

The fuel is for use at a research reactor in Iran’s capital, Tehran, which produces medical radioisotopes for therapeutic and diagnostic procedures.

If the four countries taking part in the talks endorse the draft agreement, it would then be forwarded to the IAEA Board of Governors for formal ratification.

“I must say that everybody who participated at the meeting was trying to help, trying to look to the future and not to the past, trying to heal the wounds that existed for many, many years,” Mr. ElBaradei noted.

He voiced hope that if approved, the agreement will “open the way for a complete normalization of relations between Iran and the international community.”

The IAEA was selected as the venue for the discussions because Iran has requested the body to facilitate talks with potential nuclear fuel suppliers.

Earlier this month, it was announced after talks between Mr. ElBaradei and Iranian authorities that IAEA inspectors will visit a newly disclosed uranium enrichment facility under construction in Qom, south-west of the capital.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that the facility violates Security Council resolutions because of the delay in its disclosure.

During his talks in New York in September with Iranian President Mahmoud 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.

Iran has stated that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, but some other countries contend it is driven by military ambitions. The issue has been 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).

 

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