Barring of inspectors hampers Iran nuclear probe, says top UN official

13 September 2010

The head of the United Nations atomic watchdog today voiced “great regret” over Iran’s decision to bar two key nuclear inspectors and said the move hinders the body’s investigation into the country’s nuclear programme.

“I express my full confidence in the professionalism and impartiality of the inspectors concerned,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano said. “Both are very knowledgeable about the nuclear fuel cycle and have long experience in Iran.”

Addressing the IAEA Board of Governors in Vienna, he underscored that Iran has “not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”

That cooperation, Mr. Amano said, includes implementing Security Council resolutions and implementing the Additional Protocol, a set of safeguards aimed at boosting the agency’s ability to ensure that a State does not have undeclared nuclear material.

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).

The Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran in June, citing the proliferation risks posed by its nuclear programme and its continued failure to cooperate with the IAEA.

The Council has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Iran since 2006, 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.

The IAEA’s latest report on Iran states that the country’s “repeated objection to the designation of inspectors with experience in Iran’s nuclear fuel cycle and facilities hampers the inspection process,” Mr. Amano said today, calling for the reversal of the 2007 decision to ban dozens of inspectors.

That report, which says that Iran has not suspended its enrichment-related activities, is “a source of concern,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in New York today.

Mr. Ban urged the country to cooperate to the “fullest extent possible” to resolve all outstanding issues related to its nuclear programme.

Mr. Amano’s address to the Board of Governors also noted that Syria has not fully cooperated with the IAEA over its Dair Alzour site, which has been alleged by some to be the site of a nuclear reactor, and other locations.

“It is critical that Syria positively engaged with the agency on all these issues without further delay,” he stressed.

The IAEA head also said that there is still a lack of clarity among Member States in the Middle East on the possible establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the area.


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