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Long-term funding crucial to monitoring nuclear agreement with Iran, UN atomic chief warns

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano delivers his introductory statement to the 1427th Board of Governors Meeting, Vienna, Austria, 19 January 2016. Photo: IAEA/Dean Calma
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano delivers his introductory statement to the 1427th Board of Governors Meeting, Vienna, Austria, 19 January 2016. Photo: IAEA/Dean Calma
19 January 2016 – The head of the United Nations nuclear agency today called for long-term predictable funding to monitor Iran’s agreement with the international community to never seek, develop or acquire nuclear weapons.

“I am grateful to countries that have already made, or pledged, contributions and I count on the support of all Member States in ensuring predictable funding for this long-term verification and monitoring work,” UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano told his Board of Governors at IAEA headquarters in Vienna.

Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) reached in July between and Iran and a group of six countries – China, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom and United States – the IAEA is entrusted with verifying and monitoring Iran’s commitments.

On Saturday, Mr. Amano announced that Iran had carried out all the preliminary requirements for the lifting of sanctions that the UN had imposed since it was revealed in 2003 that Iran had pursued various nuclear activities for 18 years in violation of its commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Iran said its activities were purely peaceful for energy production and medical purposes but several countries suspected it was seeking to produce nuclear weapons.

“The way is now clear for the Agency to begin verifying and monitoring Iran’s nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA, as requested by the Security Council and authorized by the Board,” Mr. Amano said today.

“As I informed the Board in December, implementation of the Additional Protocol, and verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA, involve activities for which predictable funding is needed,” he added, referring to an addition to the NPT which enhances IAEA's ability to monitor nuclear activities to verify that they are peaceful.

“Implementation of the JCPOA marks the beginning of a new phase in relations between Iran and the IAEA. We have come a long way since the Agency first started considering the Iran nuclear issue in 2003. A lot of work has gone into getting us here. Equal effort will be required in the future to implement the JCPOA. The IAEA is fully committed to playing its part,” he said.



UN welcomes report on Iran completing required nuclear measures, calling it 'significant milestone'

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano briefs the press following release of his report on 16 January 2016, confirming that Iran has completed necessary preparatory steps to start the implementation of a plan of action aiming to resolve the nuclear issue. Photo: IAEA/Dean Calma
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano briefs the press following release of his report on 16 January 2016, confirming that Iran has completed necessary preparatory steps to start the implementation of a plan of action aiming to resolve the nuclear issue. Photo: IAEA/Dean Calma
16 January 2016 – Following the release of a report confirming that Iran has completed necessary preparatory steps to start the implementation of a plan of action aiming to resolve the nuclear issue, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the achievement of having reached “Implementation Day,” highlighting that he is heartened by the lifting of sanctions on Iran.

“This is a significant milestone that reflects the good faith effort by all parties to fulfil their agreed commitments,” said Mr. Ban in a statement issued by his Spokesperson.

The report was submitted to the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors and to the United Nations Security Council, after Agency inspectors on the ground verified that Iran has carried out all measures required under what is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between the E3+3 and Iran.

In July, Iran and a group of six countries – China, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom and United States – reached the JCPOA, entrusting the IAEA with verifying and monitoring Iran's commitments.

Under the plan, Iran pledged never under any circumstances to seek, develop or acquire nuclear weapons, and the UN Security Council is to consider ending sanctions imposed for its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) violations.

“The Secretary-General commends the dedication and determination shown on all sides,” the statement indicated. “He encourages the parties to continue to implement the JCPOA in the months and years ahead.”

The UN chief further underlined that this achievement demonstrates that international proliferation concerns are best addressed through dialogue and patient diplomacy.

“The Secretary-General hopes the success of this agreement contributes to greater regional and international cooperation for peace, security and stability in the region and beyond,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, IAEA's Director General, Yukiya Amano, said “Implementation Day” paves the way to begin verifying and monitoring Iran's nuclear-related commitments under the agreement.

“Relations between Iran and the IAEA now enter a new phase,” he said in a statement. “It is an important day for the international community. I congratulate all those who helped make it a reality, especially the group of countries known as the E3/EU+3, Iran and the IAEA Board.”

In line with its commitments, Iran will now start to provisionally implement the Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA—which Mr. Amano said “increases the Agency's ability to monitor nuclear activities in Iran and to verify that they are peaceful.”

“We have come a long way since the IAEA first started considering the Iran nuclear issue in 2003,” he noted. “A lot of work has gone into getting us here, and implementation of this agreement will require a similar effort. For our part, we are ready to get on with the job.”

Separately, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed reports today of the release of a number of Americans who had been detained in Iran, including Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, and of a number of Iranians held by the United States following an agreement between the two Governments.

In a statement, he commended these recent moves to improve ties.



UN deplores ‘deeply troubling’ hydrogen bomb test announced by DPR Korea

On 6 January 2016 the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization’s (CTBTO) monitoring stations picked up an unusual seismic event in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Credit: CTBTO
On 6 January 2016 the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization’s (CTBTO) monitoring stations picked up an unusual seismic event in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Credit: CTBTO
6 January 2016 – The United Nations at all levels today deplored the underground nuclear test announced by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling it “deeply troubling” and the UN Security Council vowing to immediately begin considering the “significant measures” it had vowed to take in the event of another nuclear test by the country.

Calling the announced incident “a grave contravention of the international norm against nuclear testing,” Mr. Ban, addressing reporters at UN Headquarters, added: “This act is profoundly destabilizing for regional security and seriously undermines international non-proliferation efforts. I condemn it unequivocally.”

The UN chief went on to demand that the DPRK cease any further nuclear activities and meet its obligations for verifiable denuclearization.

“We are monitoring and assessing developments in close coordination with the concerned international organisations – including the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) – and interested parties,” concluded the Secretary-General.

The Vienna-based CTBTO, which will be officially established when the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty enters into force, oversees the International Monitoring System (IMS), which, when complete, consist of 337 facilities worldwide to monitor the planet for signs of nuclear explosions.

Immediately following urgent closed-door talks this morning, members of the Security Council strongly condemned this test, which the deemed a clear violation of resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), and 2094 (2013), and of the non-proliferation regime.

In a statement to the press, the Council’s 15 members also recalled that they have previously expressed determination to take "further significant measures" in the event of another DPRK nuclear test, and in line with this commitment and the gravity of this violation, they said the Council will begin to work immediately on such measures in a new resolution.

Following the announcement today by the DPRK, the head of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that if the nuclear test is confirmed, it is in clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions and is “deeply regrettable.”

“I strongly urge the DPRK to implement fully all relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and the IAEA,” said Director General Yukiya Amano in a statement.

He added that the IAEA remains ready to contribute to the peaceful resolution of the DPRK nuclear issue “by resuming its nuclear verification activities in the DPRK once a political agreement is reached among countries concerned.”

Meanwhile, the CTBTO has said that its monitoring stations picked up “an unusual seismic event” in the DPRK today at 01:30:00 (UTC), and that its initial location estimate shows that the event took place in the area of the DPRK's nuclear test site. If confirmed this will be the fourth nuclear test carried out by the country since 2006. CTBTO experts are “analysing the event to establish more about its nature.”

“If confirmed as a nuclear test, this act constitutes a breach of the universally accepted norm against nuclear testing; a norm that has been respected by 183 countries since 1996,” said the Executive Secretary of the CBTO, Lassina Zerbo, in a statement.

“It is also a grave threat to international peace and security,” he continued. “I urge the DPRK to refrain from further nuclear testing and to join the 183 States Signatories who have signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.”

"It’s about time that we be more proactive rather than being reactive to what the North Koreans are doing," Mr. Zerbo underscored in an interview with UN Radio.

Also in a statement today, the President of the General Assembly said he was “dismayed and disappointed” by the news of an underground nuclear test by the DPRK.

“Nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction threaten the existence of humankind and must be eliminated,” said Mogens Lykketoft.

“The Democratic People's Republic of Korea should abandon its nuclear weapon and missile programmes in a verifiable and irreversible manner, cease all related activities and comply with all its international obligations, including the UN Security Council and IAEA board of governors resolutions as well as other international disarmament and non-proliferation norms.” he added.

He further called on the country to pursue its objectives by “choosing dialogue over demonstrations of power that present a serious threat to global peace and security.”