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UN atomic agency calls on Iran to grant inspectors access to military site

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano (center) addresses Board of Governors meeting.
D. Calma/IAEA
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano (center) addresses Board of Governors meeting.

UN atomic agency calls on Iran to grant inspectors access to military site

The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog today renewed his call on Iran to grant inspectors access to the Parchin nuclear facility site.

“It is a matter of concern that activities which have taken place since February 2012, at the location within the Parchin site [...] will have an adverse impact on our ability to undertake effective verification there,” said the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, in his introductory statement to a meeting of the IAEA’s Board of Governors in Vienna.

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.

Iran has repeatedly stated that its nuclear programme is for the peaceful purpose of providing energy, but many countries contend it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

Last month, during a visit to Tehran, the Iranian capital, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the need for diplomacy in resolving the country’s nuclear issue, and called on Iran to cooperate with the IAEA to build international confidence in the peaceful nature of its nuclear activities.

In his remarks, Mr. Amano said that despite intensified dialogue between the IAEA and Iran since the beginning of the year, no concrete results have been achieved so far.

“This is frustrating because, without Iran’s full engagement, we will not be able to start the process to resolve all outstanding issues, including those concerning possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme,” the agency chief said. “We consider it essential for Iran to engage with us without further delay on the substance of our concerns.”

In a letter dated 29 August 2012, Iran described allegations of nuclear activities at the Parchin site as ‘baseless,’ Mr. Amano noted. However, he told the Board of Governors that activities observed further strengthened the need to have access to the location without further delay to clarify the situation.

Mr. Amano added that, at the moment, Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable the IAEA to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is being used for peaceful activities.

“I urge Iran to take steps towards the full implementation of all relevant obligations in order to establish international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme,” he said. “I hope that, as a result of our intensified dialogue with Iran, concrete, tangible results will be achieved without further delay.”

In his statement, Mr. Amano also addressed nuclear verification issues in Syria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as well as progress on the implementation of the agency’s action plan to strengthen safety at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. The Fukushima station was damaged, resulting in radiation leakage, by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, in what was reported to be the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

The 35-nation Board meeting is expected to cover the IAEA’s work on nuclear verification, safety, security and the peaceful use of nuclear technologies. The Board, which meets five times a year at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria, is the agency’s policymaking body.