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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Annan says he has indications Iran and Europeans ready to continue nuclear talks

10 August 2005 United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today he had received indications from both Iran and European negotiators that they would continue their search for a solution to the oil producer’s nuclear programme, which some countries, including the United States, see as an effort to produce nuclear weapons.

“I believe that the best way to break the impasse is to continue the discussions – the EU-3 with the Iranians at the table,” Mr. Annan told reporters just hours after Iran broke the seals, under UN surveillance, at a uranium conversion plant where it had suspended operations while negotiating with the European Union’s (EU) France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

“And I think they should continue their search for a solution that is in conformity with international norms and the atomic agency resolutions. I have indications from both sides that they are prepared to continue their search for a solution,” he told reporters after attending his monthly working lunch with the 15-member Security Council.

Iran, which denies it is seeking nuclear weapons and insists that its programme is solely for civilian energy production, suspended all uranium enrichment and reprocessing in November in the so-called Paris agreement for talks with the EU-3 to resolve issues arising out of the disclosure two years ago that it had for almost two decades concealed its nuclear activities in breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Enriched uranium can be used for peaceful purposes such as generating energy or for making nuclear weapons and the EU-3 have said a resumption of nuclear activities would mean the end of the negotiations.

“Obviously this was not in conformity with the Paris agreement as endorsed by the atomic agency but I hope that all sides will desist from any action that will lead to further escalation and continue the process at the table,” Mr. Annan said, referring to the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has called on Iran to continue its voluntary moratorium as a confidence-building measure.

“I am in touch with all parties concerned and I have spoken to the new Iranian president on this issue, urging for restraint and continuation of the dialogue,” he added.

The Vienna-based IAEA, whose mandate includes preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, confirmed today that that Iran had broken all the seals at the Uranium Conversion Facility in Isfahan after the agency had installed its inspection system, but stressed that its supervision did not imply an endorsement of the resumption.

The IAEA Board of Governors is currently meeting in Vienna at the request of the EU-3 to discuss the next steps.

The installation of IAEA cameras for breaking the seals and its surveillance of operations are part of NPT safeguards aimed at ensuring that materials and equipment are not diverted to weapons production, and although Iran’s resumption under these conditions does not breach the treaty, the agency has repeatedly urged it to continue the suspension.

“The Board has clearly stated in the past that although suspension of enrichment-related and conversion activities in the Islamic Republic of Iran is a voluntary decision, it is nonetheless essential for confidence-building and for resolution of outstanding issues relevant to Iran's past undeclared nuclear activities,” IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said yesterday before the start of the Board’s session.



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