The nuclear programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Iran remain matters of serious concern, the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog said today, as he called on both countries to cooperate fully to clear up outstanding issues.
The verification of nuclear activities was among the issues highlighted by Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as he addressed the opening of the Agency’s Board of Governors meeting in Vienna.
It has been five years since IAEA inspectors were asked to leave the DPRK, whose nuclear programme remains “a matter of serious concern,” said Mr. Amano.
He said that DPRK statements reiterating the country’s ‘right’ to conduct further nuclear tests, as well as its intention to restart its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, are “deeply regrettable,” as are previous statements about uranium enrichment activities and the construction of a light water reactor.
“Such actions are clear violations of relevant UN Security Council resolutions,” the Director General stated.
“I call upon the DPRK to comply fully with its obligations, to cooperate promptly with the Agency, and to resolve all outstanding issues, including those that have arisen during the absence of Agency inspectors from the country,” he said, adding that the IAEA will continue to maintain its readiness to play an essential role in verifying Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.
Meanwhile, the agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its Safeguards Agreement.
However, Mr. Amano noted, the Agency is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.
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).
Last month, the Director General held meetings in Tehran with the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, and other senior officials as part of his efforts to advance high-level dialogue between the Agency and Iran.
“I stressed the importance of the timely implementation of the Framework for Cooperation,” said Mr. Amano, referring to the agreement between the IAEA and Iran. “I noted Iran’s statement of its firm, high-level commitment to implementing the Framework for Cooperation and its stated willingness to accelerate the resolution of all outstanding issues.”
He reported that Iran has implemented three of the five practical measures agreed with the Agency in the third step of the Framework for Cooperation. Two of these were implemented after the agreed deadline of 25 August. Iran has begun discussions with the Agency on the two remaining practical measures.
The Agency asked Iran to propose new practical measures by 2 September to be implemented by the country in the next step of the Framework. Iran has yet to propose such measures.
“In order to resolve all outstanding issues, past and present, it is very important that Iran continues to implement, in a timely manner, all practical measures agreed under the Framework for Cooperation, and that it proposes new measures that we can agree upon for the next step,” said Mr. Amano.
During their week-long deliberations, the 35-member Board of Governors will discuss a number of issues in addition to DPRK and Iran, including measures to strengthen international cooperation in nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety as well as activities related to nuclear science, technology and applications and nuclear verification matters.
Mr. Amano told the Board that his report on Implementation of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety shows that progress continues to be made in improving nuclear safety throughout the world. Further consideration is being given to integrating activities under the Action Plan into the Agency's regular programme of work after 2015.
Also, work is continuing on the IAEA Report on the Fukushima Daiichi accident. Additional information on the accident is being released in Japan, and this will be considered as the Agency proceeds with its work. Formal publication of the Report is planned for next year’s General Conference.