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IAEA Calls on Iran to Comply with International Nuclear Safeguards - 2003-06-19

The International Atomic Energy Agency has called for Iran to come into compliance with its international safeguard obligations concerning its nuclear facilities.

An IAEA statement said Iran should fully cooperate with the agency and allow environmental sampling and access to nuclear sites by its inspectors. But the formula finally agreed on by the 35-member IAEA board of governors falls far short of the tough resolution for stricter inspections that is supported by the U.S. delegation.

The United States has told the board that Iran's nuclear program is a cause for grave concern and that it is deeply troubling. Canada chimed in to say it was alarmed by the reluctance of Iran to be, "pro-active."

The United States said details of imports of nuclear material, subsequent processing, and storage by Tehran came to light through outside reports. It added that Iran's own failure to declare its activities was a violation of its obligations.

The head of the U.S. delegation, Kenneth Brill, said Iran delayed the visit of IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei for months in what he said was a conscious effort to evade monitoring by the agency.

Mr. Brill described this as a lack of transparency that indicates the Iranians could have something to hide. Washington is accusing Iran of developing nuclear weapons in secret.

Not all on the IAEA board were prepared to go along with the U.S. position. Malaysia, speaking for the non-aligned movement, welcomed what it saw as Iran's constructive and transparent policy in cooperating with the IAEA inspections.

The non-aligned movement called instead for Israel to place all its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards and said the Middle East must be free of weapons of mass destruction. Iranian envoy Ali Salehi stressed his country's commitment to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, known as the NPT.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has fully fulfilled its obligations under all provisions of the NPT," he said. "Iran's position, of denouncing the nuclear option, as a matter of principle, and placing its peaceful nuclear facilities under the full scope Safeguards Agreement, is a clear manifestation of our commitment to a strong NPT.

"Iran considers the acquiring, development and use of nuclear weapons inhuman, immoral, illegal and against its very basic principles," continued Mr. Salehi. "They have no place in Iran's defense doctrine. They do not add to Iran's security, nor do they help rid the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction which is in Iran's supreme interest."

Mr. Salehi said the IAEA board should avoid double standards that were, as he saw it, politically motivated.

Diplomats say Iran has a chance to rectify past failures before the next meeting of the board that could be called before a regular meeting in September.