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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN ends probe into Iran's past nuclear activities, moving international accord closer to implementation

15 December 2015 – The United Nations nuclear watchdog today closed the book on the possible military aspects of Iran's nuclear programme, finding that they were limited to feasibility and scientific studies and did not proceed beyond 2009, bringing an international nuclear accord with Iran a step closer to implementation.

"My final assessment gives clear answers to two very important questions: did Iran engage in activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device? And, if it did, is it still doing so?" UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano told the IAEA Board of Governors in Vienna before it adopted a resolution closing the long running investigation.

"The Agency assesses that a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device were conducted in Iran prior to the end of 2003 as a coordinated effort, and some activities took place after 2003," he said, stressing that while the IAEA could not reconstruct all details of Iran's past activities, it could clarify enough to assess the whole picture.

"The Agency also assesses that these activities did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies, and the acquisition of certain relevant technical competences and capabilities. The Agency has no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009."

In July Iran and a group of six countries – China, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom and United States – reached a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to resolve the nuclear issue, entrusting the IAEA with verifying and monitoring Iran's commitments.

Iran's nuclear programme – which it states is for peaceful purposes of energy production, but some other countries contend is driven by military ambitions – has been a matter of international concern since the discovery in 2003 that it concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Under the JCPOA 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 NPT violations once it receives IAEA's report on verification.

"JCPOA Implementation Day will occur when the Agency has verified that Iran has implemented measures specified in that agreement," Mr. Amano said today. "I will inform the Board promptly when the Agency has verified that the preparatory steps have been completed."

He also called for addressing the issue of funding the additional IAEA activities in Iran under the JCPOA, noting that verification and monitoring require predictable funding.

"Significant progress has been made on the Iran nuclear issue, but now is not the time to relax," Mr. Amano concluded. "This issue has a long and complex history, and the legacy of mistrust between Iran and the international community must be overcome."

"Much work lies ahead of us. All parties must fully implement their commitments under the JCPOA. Considerable effort was required in order to reach this agreement. A similar and sustained effort will be required to implement it," he stressed.

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