UN nuclear watchdog chief welcomes Iran’s agreement to address outstanding issues

Mohamed ElBaradei

12 September 2007 – The head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today welcomed Iran’s agreement on a timeline to address all outstanding issues relating to its nuclear programme.

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei told reporters in Vienna, where the agency’s 35-member Board of Governors is meeting this week, that the August agreement, the first such work plan Iran has consented to, is “an important step in the right direction.”

Repeating his call for a “double time-out” in both of all enrichment-related activities and of sanctions, he said that “the earlier we move from confrontation and distrust, to dialogue and confidence-building, the better for Iran and for the international community.”

In his most recent report regarding Iran, Mr. ElBaradei said that while the IAEA is able to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in the country, the agency still cannot verify certain portions pertaining to the scope and nature of the Iranian nuclear programme.

Regarding the work plan, the report noted that “if Iran finally addresses the long outstanding verification issues, the Agency should be in a position to reconstruct the history of Iran’s nuclear programme.” It also called on the country to fully comply with the IAEA as well as provide access to all necessary documents and individuals.

“Contrary to the decisions of the Security Council, Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activities, having continued with the operation of PFEP [Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant], and with the construction and operation of FEP [Fuel Enrichment Plant],” Mr. ElBaradei noted. “Iran is also continuing with its construction of the IR-40 reactor and operation of the Heavy Water Production Plant.”

Iran’s nuclear programme has been a matter of international concern since the discovery in 2003 that it had concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Last December, the Security Council adopted a resolution banning trade with Iran in all items, materials, equipment, goods and technology which could contribute to the country's enrichment-related, reprocessing or heavy water-related activities, or to the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems. It tightened the measures in March, banning arms sales and expanding the freeze on assets.

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