8.12.2005

IAEA Resolution Urges Iran To Halt Nuclear Activities

U.S. supports U.N. agency's efforts to curb Iran's nuclear program

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) adopted a resolution August 11 calling on Iran to halt all nuclear reprocessing activities.

The resolution demands that Iran halt uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities it began August 8 at its Isfahan uranium conversion plant after an eight-month suspension of nuclear work.

The resolution was drafted by Britain, France and Germany -- known as the EU3 for their efforts to get Iran to comply with IAEA demands to halt its nuclear production program. It calls on IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei "to provide a comprehensive report on the implementation of Iran's NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] Safeguards Agreement and this resolution by September 3, 2005."

"The resolution on Iran was just adopted without a vote [but] by ... full consensus. All 35 members of the board [of governors] agreed [to] the language of the resolution text," IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told reporters at the organization’s headquarters in Vienna.

The United States has urged Iran not to proceed with uranium enrichment at its Isfahan conversion plant and to suspend any future nuclear-related reprocessing activities, Ambassador Greg Schulte said August 9 at an IAEA board meeting. The board decided to delay voting on the EU3 resolution until August 11 to give members time to negotiate terms of the accord.

Not only does uranium enrichment at the Isfahan facility violate Iran's obligations under the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but "it also poses a threat to international peace and security," Schulte said.

"Imagine nuclear weapons in the hands of a regime that so boldly flaunts its international obligations, that actively supports international terrorism, and that actively opposes the Middle East peace process," Schulte said. "Iran must step away from this dangerous path."

Ultimately, the IAEA could, as a last resort, refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for not complying with its resolution to cease enrichment and reprocessing efforts.

ElBaradei confirmed August 10 that Iran had removed the seals on the process lines at its Isfahan facility. He also reported that the IAEA surveillance equipment "at the [uranium conversion facility] is fully functional and that the uranium ore concentrate has been verified by the agency."

ElBaradei said that Iran's voluntary suspension of reprocessing and enrichment activities is essential for confidence building.

"We stand united with the EU3, other members of this board, and the rest of the world in urging Iran to return to the provisions of the [November 2004] Paris Agreement, to restore full suspension on enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including uranium conversion, and to cooperate fully with the IAEA verification efforts," Schulte said.

At the heart of U.S. and others concerns is that the "Iranian leadership is determined, no matter the cost to the Iranian people, no matter the cost to Iran's international standing, to develop a nuclear weapons capability," he said.

The EU3 has offered a useful alternative, he said by preserving and enhancing Iran’s access to peaceful nuclear technology.

"Its offer would allow the Iranian people not only to enjoy the peaceful benefits of nuclear technology, but also to gain in security and prosperity. The Iranian people deserve this opportunity," he said.

Schulte is the permanent representative of the United States to the United Nations Office in Vienna, the IAEA, and other international organizations in Vienna.

Following is the text of Schulte's August 9 remarks:

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
U.S. Statement
August 9, 2005
IAEA Board of Governors Meeting
Iran

Madam Chair,

The United States government has strongly supported the efforts of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, with the support of the High Representative of the European Union, to negotiate a diplomatic settlement with Iran following the revelation of Iran’s breaches of safeguards obligations. We, the governing Board of the IAEA, endorsed the first EU3 initiative in 2003 as the principal effort to bring Iran back into compliance with its treaty obligations.

The agreement reached in Paris in November 2004, embodied our collective hope to find a diplomatic solution to the challenge Iran’s nuclear program poses to international peace and security. We meet today because Iran has broken that agreement. We urge our fellow Board members to send a clear message to the leadership in Tehran: Step away from the dangerous course of action you are pursuing.

In seven reports since 2003, the IAEA confirmed that Iran pursued a covert nuclear program for nearly two decades. During this period, Iran devoted considerable resources to developing and acquiring nuclear fuel cycle technologies that provide the capability to make fissile material for nuclear weapons.

At the Board meeting in June, the secretariat confirmed that Iran still has not assured us that these activities are purely for peaceful uses. Iran still denies inspectors the transparency and cooperation required to build confidence that Iran is not hiding elements of a covert program. Serious questions remain.

Of particular concern among the outstanding questions are: What is the full extent of Iran's uranium enrichment efforts? What is the full extent and time frame of Iran’s experimentation with plutonium reprocessing? What is the full extent of military involvement in Iran’s supposedly civil programs?

These questions go to the core of Iran’s program and intentions. Iran cannot claim to be fully cooperating with inspectors and to have met their obligations until we are fully satisfied with the answers.

In the face of these serious questions, the EU3, with the support of the European Union, undertook to seek a peaceful, diplomatic solution. The EU3 offer that Iran has so roundly rejected would have preserved Iran’s right under the NPT to pursue the benefits of civil nuclear technology. At the same time, it would have addressed deep international concerns over Iran’s noncompliance with its NPT safeguards obligations. The offer would, furthermore, have laid the groundwork to improve Iran’s diplomatic, security, and economic engagement with Europe and beyond.

But Iran rejected the offer in the harshest of terms.

Why? The Iranian people stand to gain both security and prosperity if their government maintains the suspension and negotiating in good faith with the EU3. Why would Iran’s leaders turn their backs on this opportunity? What are their real intentions?

Is it because Iran has a pressing technical need to operate Isfahan? The answer to this question is no. Russia has contracted to supply fuel for the Bushehr reactor, the only power reactor Iran will be able to operate for many years. And in any case, if Iran’s declarations are to be believed, it does not yet have the capability to either enrich or fabricate such fuel.

Is it because it makes economic sense for Iran to develop a self-sufficient fuel cycle for civil nuclear power? Again, the answer is no. According to the best international data available, Iran does not have the domestic uranium reserves to sustain even a single Bushehr reactor, let alone the seven reactors Iran says it wants to build. Besides, the international market can provide fuel at much lower cost.

Is it because conversion and enrichment are essential for Iran to enjoy the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology? Again, no. The EU3 offer to Iran would not only preserve Iran’s access to peaceful nuclear technology, it would enhance it. All that is asked is that Iran no longer develop technologies of concern for which it has no peaceful need. The NPT does not assure the right of countries to nuclear technologies as a cover for a weapons program.

So why is Iran proceeding? We can only conclude that the Iranian leadership is determined, no matter the cost to the Iranian people, no matter the cost to Iran's international standing, to develop a nuclear weapons capability.

Not only does this violate Iran's NPT obligations, it also poses a threat to international peace and security. Imagine nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime that so boldly flaunts its international obligations, that actively supports international terrorism, and that actively opposes the Middle East peace process.

Iran must step away from this dangerous path. The EU3 has offered a constructive alternative. Its offer would allow the Iranian people not only to enjoy the peaceful benefits of nuclear technology, but also to gain in security and prosperity. The Iranian people deserve this opportunity.

We stand united with the EU3, other members of this Board, and the rest of the world in urging Iran to return to the provisions of the Paris Agreement, to restore full suspension on enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including uranium conversion, and to cooperate fully with the IAEA verification efforts.

Madam Chair,

We hope Iran will make this choice. If, however, Iran refuses to take the steps necessary to restore our confidence in its nuclear intentions, we, the IAEA Board of Governors, will have no choice but to report this threat to international peace and security to the United Nations Security Council.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Source: International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State

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