Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today personally urged Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to restore international trust in the peaceful nature of his country's nuclear programme by adhering to the resolutions of the Security Council and the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency.
At a meeting requested by Mr. Ahmadinejad, who is in New York to attend the five-yearly review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Mr. Ban urged the resumption of talks between Iran and a group of six countries – China, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom and United States – aimed at resolving issues over a programme that some countries contend is intended to develop a nuclear weapons capacity.
Iran says the programme is for purely peaceful energy production but earlier today Mr. Ban told the NPT conference that it was up to Iran to take the initiative. “Let me be clear: the onus is on Iran to clarify the doubts and concerns of its programme,” he said. In response, Mr. Ahmadinejad told the conference no credible proof had been provided that Iran had anything but peaceful intentions.
The issue has been of international concern since the discovery in 2003 that Iran had concealed its nuclear activities for nearly two decades in breach of its obligations under the NPT. The UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly stated that it cannot confirm that all Iran's nuclear material is for peaceful activities because the country has not provided the necessary cooperation.
In view of this the Council has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Iran, including a ban on all items which could contribute to the country's enrichment of uranium, a necessary step for both peaceful and militaristic uses of nuclear energy, and arms sales and a freeze on assets.
Last October, a draft 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 but Iran has said it needs more time to provide a response.
Today Mr. Ban said that agreement provides an opportunity to restore confidence and he appealed to Mr. Ahmadinejad to provide the necessary cooperation.
The two leaders also discussed humanitarian and human rights issues, and Mr. Ban welcomed Iran's participation in the periodic review of human rights in the country and encouraged implementation of recommendations together with civil society and other stakeholders.