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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran's new nuclear proposal could be a confidence-building measure - Ban

24 May 2010 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said an Iranian proposal on its nuclear programme presented today to the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be assessed by all concerned parties and, if accepted, could serve as an important confidence-building measure and pave the way for a negotiated solution to the dispute.

Earlier, the IAEA spokesperson said the agency’s Director General Yukiya Amano had received the representatives of Iran, Brazil and Turkey, who delivered a letter signed by the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi.

The letter follows the joint declaration signed by the three countries in Tehran on 17 May, regarding fuel supply for the Tehran research nuclear reactor. Mr. Amano will convey the letter to the United States, France and Russia for their consideration, according to the IAEA spokesman.

Under the initiative brokered by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Iran would ship its low-enriched uranium out of the country in exchange for high-enriched uranium for use at a civilian nuclear research site in Tehran.

Mr. Ban welcomed the diplomatic efforts by Turkey and Brazil to resolve the resolve international tensions related to Iran’s nuclear programme, and reiterated his call to Tehran to show greater transparence on the issue.

“I have stated repeatedly that Iran should show greater transparency about its nuclear programme,” the Secretary-General told reporters in New York. “Let me stress once again the importance of Iran’s full cooperation with the IAEA and full compliance with Security Council resolutions,” he added.

Asked if he would consider calling for a pause on Security Council consultations that could result in fresh sanctions against Iran because of the new initiative, Mr. Ban said he was not in a position to take a particular stand, stressing once again that the Turkish-Brazilian proposal was a “very positive step towards a negotiated settlement if followed up with further engagement of the IAEA and the international community”.

“There is clearly a difference of approach where we have confidence-building area [on the one hand] and permanent resolution of this issue [on the other]. How to strike a balance between all these will require political will and very professional technical review of the Turkish deal, and also some flexibility,” the Secretary-General said.

Mr. Ban said that lack of confidence was the main hindrance to efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue. The announcement by Iran that it would continue its enrichment of uranium to 20 per cent purity even under the Turkish-Brazilian arrangement had caused concern to the international community.

“I myself have expressed my concern on that particular point,” he said. “How to address all these detailed issues will have to be left in the hands of continuing consultations or negotiations. For me as the Secretary-General, where there is some framework of negotiation or mediation then it is better to leave it to them,” Mr. Ban added.

Iranian authorities have stated that the country’s nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, while some nations contend Tehran is driven by military ambitions. In 2003 it was discovered that Iran had concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The IAEA has repeatedly stated that it cannot confirm that all Iran's nuclear material is for peaceful activities because the country has not cooperated fully with international efforts to verify that its nuclear programme was indeed meant for civilian purposes.

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