Full transparency needed from Iran on nuclear activities, UN agency chief says

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei

22 September 2008 – The head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today called on Iran to be fully transparent about its nuclear activities, six years after the agency began efforts to clarify those activities.

Director General Mohamed ElBaradei told the IAEA’s Board of Governors, meeting in Geneva, that the agency “does not in any way seek to ‘pry’ into Iran’s conventional or missile-related activities.”

Instead, he said that its focus is squarely on Iran’s nuclear activities, which its officials have stated is for peaceful purposes, but some other countries contend is driven by military ambitions.

“We need, however, to make use of all relevant information to be able to confirm that no nuclear material is being used for nuclear weapons purposes,” Mr. ElBaradei told the 35-member Board.

“I again urge Iran to show full transparency and to implement all measures required to build confidence in the exclusive peaceful nature of its nuclear programme at the earliest possible date.”

The IAEA has not made substantial progress in verifying Iran’s so-called studies into possible weaponization studies, which remain of “serious concern,” he said.

The country alleges that all relevant documents are either fabricated or forged, but the Director General urged the country to boost cooperation with the IAEA.

“Unless Iran provides such transparency… the Agency will not be able to provide credible assurances about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran,” he said.

Further, he called on the country to implement the Additional Protocol, which gives the IAEA additional authority to visit sites and access additional documents to ensure that there are no undeclared nuclear activities.

Mr. ElBaradei pointed out that in contravention of the Security Council, Iran has not suspended its enrichment-related activities. “Although Iran has so far produced only limited quantities of low enriched uranium (LEU), this is still a cause for concern for the international community in the absence of full clarity about Iran’s past and present nuclear programme.”

He also briefed the Board on other issues, before the IAEA General Conference of its 145 Member States kicks off next week.

On the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Director General said that the East Asian nation’s authorities asked IAEA inspectors this morning to remove seals and surveillance equipment to be able to carry out tests – not involving nuclear material – at the Yongbyon reactor, which was taken off line last year.

Recently, some equipment that had been removed by the DPRK while the reactor was being dismantled has been brought back.

But Mr. ElBaradei said that “this has not changed the shutdown status of the nuclear facilities at Yongbyon.”

He voiced hope that conditions can be created for the country to return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which forms the foundation of the world’s nuclear non-proliferation regime, and that the IAEA can resume its comprehensive safeguards to verify that the country is living up to its commitments not to use nuclear programmes for nuclear-weapons purposes.

The Director General noted that significant progress has been made in Libya by the agency in verifying the non-diversion of declared nuclear material.

Meanwhile in Syria, where an installation at Al Kibar was destroyed by Israel last September, the IAEA has asked the country for access to additional information and locations following its June mission to probe allegations that the site was a nuclear reactor.

“Syria has not yet responded on this request but has indicated that any further developments would depend on the results of the samples taken during the first visit,” Mr. ElBaradei said, adding that he hopes Syria will cooperate and provide the agency with the information it needs to complete its assessment.


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