Chief of UN nuclear watchdog to visit Iran later this week

14 October 2003 –

The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency has accepted an invitation from the Government of Iran to visit the country later this week and gather outstanding information about its safeguards under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), just days before an end of month deadline.

Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency would be accompanied by other senior IAEA officials, the agency said.

Iran is a signatory of the NPT, by which governments must renounce nuclear weapons.

Tehran has yet to provide all the necessary information about its nuclear activities and "time is indeed running out," Mr. ElBaradei said yesterday. The core issue for the Agency was understanding the history and nature of Iran's uranium enrichment programme, he added.

"In particular we need to determine whether or not Iran has had nuclear activities which were not declared to the IAEA. This means that no later than 31 October Iran must provide full and complete information on their nuclear programme," he said.

The agency was making some progress on the issue from information Iran had provided about equipment it had imported, Mr. ElBaradei said, but more information was required about the origin of the equipment and that information would have to be verified.

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