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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN nuclear watchdog discusses with Iran its request for withdrawal of some inspectors

23 January 2007 The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is discussing with officials from Iran the country’s request for withdrawing some of its inspectors, but it still has a sufficient number to continue its efforts seeking to determine whether Tehran’s nuclear programme is solely for the peaceful purpose of producing energy and not for making weapons.

At the same time UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei has reiterated his call for “engagement, dialogue, and negotiation” as the only ways toward a solution of the issue.

Last month the Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran and called for a full and sustained suspension of the uranium enrichment activities which Iran says are purely for producing energy but which other countries including the United States maintain is aimed at making nuclear weapons.

“Details of inspector designation is a confidential matter between the IAEA and the country concerned,” the agency said in a statement on reports that Iran had barred 38 nuclear inspectors on a UN list from entering the country. “In this case, we are discussing with Iran its request for withdrawing the designation of certain safeguards inspectors.”

But there are a sufficient number of inspectors designated for Iran “and the IAEA is able to perform its inspection activities in accordance with Iran’s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement,” it added, referring to the country’s obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) providing for transparency to verify the purely peaceful use of nuclear technology.

In recent reports, Mr. ElBaradei has noted that although the IAEA has not seen any diversion of nuclear material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, it also cannot conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran.

The crisis began with the discovery in 2003 that Iran had concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its NPT obligations.

During a visit to France last week, reported by the IAEA today, Mr. ElBaradei restated his view that the status quo is unacceptable and that the Security Council sanctions are a clear expression of the concerns of the international community over Iran’s nuclear programme.

But he again added that sanctions alone would not solve the issue and underlined his desire for a negotiated solution.

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