U.N. Nuclear Chief Says ‘Urgent’ for Iran to Address Concerns
Vienna – The U.N. nuclear chief told Iran on Monday it was “essential and urgent” for it to address concerns about suspected atomic bomb research, signaling his hope that the new government in Tehran will stop stonewalling his inspectors.
Yukiya Amano was addressing a session of the U.N. agency’s 35-nation board, the first since relative moderate Hassan Rouhani took office as Iranian president in early August, raising cautious optimism of progress in the nuclear dispute.
Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the IAEA was committed to working constructively with Rouhani’s government to “resolve outstanding issues by diplomatic means”. His carefully chosen words underlined international hopes that Rouhani’s administration will be less confrontational in its dealings with the outside world than his hardline predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Rouhani, keen to secure a relaxation of harsh international sanctions on Iran, has signaled readiness to be more open about Iranian nuclear activities in return for the acceptance of Tehran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. But Western diplomats stress that it remains to be seen whether Iran is prepared to curb its nuclear program, which they believe may be geared towards developing a nuclear weapons capability. Iran says it is entirely peaceful.
In his speech, Amano made clear that Iran had yet to show the level of cooperation that he wants from Tehran. “Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable us to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities,” he told the closed-door board session, according to a copy of his speech. “The Agency therefore cannot conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.” (Reuters)