Head of UN nuclear watchdog urges greater cooperation from Iran

1 March 2010
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano (left)  delivering opening remarks to the Board of Governors

Stepped-up cooperation from Iran is crucial to ensure that the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) can verify that all nuclear material in the country is for peaceful purposes, the head of the watchdog said today.

Stepped-up cooperation from Iran is crucial to ensure that the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) can verify that all nuclear material in the country is for peaceful purposes, the head of the watchdog said today.

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 nearly two decades in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The IAEA continues, “under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements with Iran, to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, but we cannot confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities because Iran has not provided the Agency with the necessary cooperation,” Director General Yukiya Amano said in his address to the body’s Board of Governors gathering underway in Vienna.

He urged Iran to cooperate in areas including the implementation of resolutions by both the IAEA and the Security Council, as well as clarification of issues related to the possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme.

Last October, an agreement on fuel for a civilian nuclear research site in Tehran was put forward in which Iranian low-enriched uranium would be shipped for further enrichment to Russia and then on to France to be fabricated into fuel.

Iran has said it needs more time to provide a response, while the other three parties to the talks – France, Russia and the United States – have all indicated their approval of the agreement.

Earlier this month, the IAEA expressed its concern over an announcement by Iran that it will increase its enrichment of uranium.

The Agency was informed by Iran in a letter that it will enhance its enrichment of the material to nearly 20 per cent for use at the Tehran Research Reactor, which produces medical radioisotopes for therapeutic and diagnostic procedures. The enrichment process, the nation told the UN body, will take place at a plant in Natanz in central Iran.

In a statement issued at the time, Mr. Amano said that he is concerned that Iran’s move will effect “ongoing international efforts to ensure the availability of nuclear fuel” for use at the civilian research site in the capital.

Two weeks ago, Iran said that it still wishes to buy the necessary nuclear fuel, and in the event this is not possible, to exchange some of its low-enriched uranium for reactor fuel from abroad.

With last October’s arrangement still on the table, “I believe it would ensure continued operation of the Tehran Research Reactor and serve as a confidence-building measure,” the Director General stressed today.

With regard to Syria, he noted that the country has not cooperated with the IAEA since June 2008 in regard to unresolved issues pertaining to Dair Alzour, which has been alleged by some to be the site of a nuclear reactor, and other locations.

“It would be helpful if Israel shared with the Agency any relevant information which it may possess,” he said, also calling for full cooperation from Syria to resolve issues concerning the Miniature Neutron Source Reactor.

On the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Mr. Amano reminded the Board of Governors that IAEA inspectors were ordered out of the country last April.

The move came after the Security Council condemned a DPRK rocket attack on 5 April 2009, deeming it to be in contravention of resolution 1718, which demanded that the country “not conduct any further nuclear test or launch of a ballistic missile,” following its claims to have conducted a nuclear test in October 2006.

“The Agency is no longer able to implement the ad hoc monitoring and verification arrangement in the DPRK,” the Director General said.

“However, I regard the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as a matter of great importance,” he said, commending the “tireless efforts” of China and other parties to resume the Six-Party talks, which also involve the DPRK, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the US.

The address by Mr. Amano, who took up his four-year post in December, also touched on nuclear energy, nuclear safety and cancer control.


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