On the eve of renewed talks between Iran and a six-nation group on its nuclear programme, a top United Nations official reported today that Tehran has still not provided the necessary proof that its activities are purely peaceful and not for military purposes.
At a meeting of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors in Vienna, Director General Yukiya Amano again reiterated the theme of previous reports that Iran is not cooperating sufficiently to prove that its nuclear programme is for the purely peaceful purpose of supplying energy, as it says, and not for building an atomic weapons, as many other countries contend.
“Iran is not implementing the requirements contained in the relevant resolutions of the Board of Governors and the Security Council, including implementation of the Additional Protocol (for unannounced spot verification checks), which are essential to building confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme,” he said, urging Tehran to fulfil its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which it has ratified.
“In particular, the Agency needs Iran’s cooperation in clarifying outstanding issues which give rise to concerns about possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme, including by providing access to all sites, equipment, persons and documents requested by the Agency,” he added, stressing that this lack of cooperation prevented the IAEA from verifying that “all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”
Mr. Amano welcomed next week’s meeting in Geneva between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group of the five Security Council permanent members – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States – along with Germany.
Iran’s nuclear programme 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 NPT obligations. In June, the Security Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions against Tehran, citing the proliferation risks of its nuclear programme and its continued failure to cooperate with the IAEA.
Turning to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Mr. Amano voiced “great concern” at recent reports about a new uranium enrichment facility and construction of a light water reactor, citing the Security Council resolution calling for the country to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes.
He noted that the Agency has not had inspectors in the country since April 2009 and that the DPRK has not permitted the IAEA to implement safeguards since 2002, and he urged it to fully implement all of the relevant resolutions.
Mr. Amano also reported that Syria had not cooperated with the Agency since June 2008 over the unresolved issues of the Dair Alzour site and some other locations, halting progress towards a resolution.
In a more general review of his agency’s mandate, he called for “reasonable real increases” in funding from member States despite the current financial challenges so that it can carry out its multiple duties that stretch far beyond the issues of nuclear proliferation to energy production and cancer treatment.
He noted that in the past year, the IAEA intensified its work on cancer control in developing countries, with the Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) receiving record contributions exceeding $5.7 million so far.
In other applications, he cited steady growth in member States’ interest in using nuclear techniques for water resource assessment, agricultural water management, and protecting the marine environment, calling these “among the most important issues for sustainable development.”
On nuclear energy production, Mr. Amano noted that expansion of existing power programmes is a high priority in a large number of countries, with 24 of the 29 nations with operating nuclear power plants planning expansions.