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Iran, DPR Korea and Syria failing obligations to UN nuclear agency, says official

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano.
IAEA/Dean Calma
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano.

Iran, DPR Korea and Syria failing obligations to UN nuclear agency, says official

The head of the United Nations atomic watchdog reported today that Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Syria have not sufficiently cooperated in resolving outstanding issues regarding their nuclear activities.

“Each case is different, but they share one common feature – each of these countries is failing to fulfil its obligations. Dealing with cases such as these represents one of the major challenges which the Agency must confront in the coming years,” said Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The nuclear verification activities concerning the three countries was among the issues Mr. Amano highlighted in his remarks to the Agency’s annual General Conference that began today in Vienna, bringing together representatives from the IAEA’s 155 member States.

“Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable us to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. Therefore, we cannot conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities,” he stated.

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).

Mr. Amano said that dialogue has been intensified between the IAEA and Iran but no concrete results have been achieved since November 2011.

Last Thursday, the Agency’s Board of Governors adopted a resolution urging Iran to comply, fully and without delay, with all of its obligations under the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council, and to meet the requirements of the Board.

“The Agency is firmly committed to intensifying dialogue. We will continue negotiations with Iran on a structured approach to resolving all outstanding issues. I hope we can reach agreement without further delay, to be followed by immediate implementation,” said the Director General.

Mr. Amano also remained seriously concerned about the DPRK’s nuclear programme, adding that its statements about uranium enrichment activities and the construction of a light water reactor are “deeply troubling.”

He called on the DPRK to fully comply with its obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions, and with the NPT, and to cooperate promptly and fully with the Agency.

Turning to Syria, he reported that it was very likely that a building destroyed at the Dair Alzour site was a nuclear reactor which should have been declared to the Agency. “I reiterate my request to Syria to hold further discussions with the Agency to address all outstanding questions related to Dair Alzour and other locations.”

In his wide-ranging speech, Mr. Amano also reported on the progress made in the implementation of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety, which was endorsed at last year’s General Conference in the aftermath of the accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

“It is essential that the Nuclear Safety Action Plan is implemented in full. We must never become complacent. The ultimate goal is to make nuclear power as safe as humanly possible everywhere and to restore public confidence,” he stated.

In his message to the meeting, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it had been an eventful year since the last session of the General Conference, “marked by extraordinary challenges that were transformed into fruitful opportunities for progress.”

He cited the global response by the international community to assist the victims of the Fukushima disaster as well as to address the broader concerns about nuclear security and safety, in the message, which was delivered on his behalf by Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.

Also highlighted were the communiqué on nuclear security adopted in March, and efforts to tackle nuclear terrorism as well as to establish a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons.