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November 07, 2010

IAEA Chief Calls on Iran, N. Korea to Dispel Concerns About Nuke Programs

by Margaret Besheer

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, called on Iran and North Korea on Monday to dispel international concerns about their nuclear programs.  Yukiya Amano told the U.N. General Assembly that both countries have failed to implement measures called for in resolutions from  the U.N. nuclear agency and the U.N. Security Council.

In his first report to the U.N. General Assembly as Director General of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano warned that North Korea's nuclear program remains a "matter of serious concern."

"The agency has had no inspectors in the country since April last year," said Amano. "The DPRK has not permitted the agency to implement safeguards in the country since December 2002, and it has not implemented the measures called for in Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874.   I call on all parties concerned to make concerted efforts for a resumption of the Six-Party Talks at an appropriate time."

Those resolutions were adopted in 2006 and 2009, respectively, in response to North Korean nuclear tests.  In the resolutions, the Security Council imposed and then expanded an arms import ban against Pyongyang as well as financial and travel restrictions.

In April 2009, North Korea pulled out of the six-party negotiations and announced that it would resume its nuclear enrichment program.

On Iran, the IAEA director said the agency continues to verify that declared nuclear material has not been diverted for military purposes, but that Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation to allow the agency to confirm that all nuclear material in that country is for peaceful purposes.

Iran's deputy U.N. Ambassador Eshagh al-Habib dismissed Amano's comments, saying that the IAEA's reporting of what he called "so much technical details" about Iran's nuclear activities proves that Tehran has cooperated with the U.N. agency.  He said that additional requests for information were made under what he called "the pretext of the illegal resolutions of the U.N. Security Council."  Al-Habib alleged that the IAEA's report was prepared under "outside" pressure.

Iran, which insists that its nuclear ambitions are peaceful, recently said it is willing to reengage in nuclear talks with the P5+1 powers - Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany.  On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki raised the possibility of a new round of talks, possibly in Turkey.

In his annual report, IAEA chief Amano also noted that some 60 countries are considering introducing nuclear energy.  He said that as many as 25 of them could bring their first nuclear power plants online by 2030, and that other countries that already have nuclear power are planning or building new reactors or expanding existing ones.