ElBaradei: IAEA doesn't know if Iran has tried to build nuclear weapons
The International Atomic Energy Agency has identified Russia, China and Pakistan as probable suppliers of some of the technology Iran used to enrich uranium in its suspect nuclear programs, diplomats told The Associated Press on Thursday. Iran has said it cannot identify the countries of origin because it bought the centrifuges and laser enrichment equipment through third parties.
The diplomats spoke as a key IAEA board meeting discussed how to react to Iran's nuclear activities.
Opening a meeting of the agency's 35-nation board of governors, IAEA Director General, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei
characterized Iran's recent cooperation as "very encouraging" and said inspectors were getting full access.
But ElBaradei said he expected the agency's board to address "the bad news and the good news" in a resolution being drafted to hold Tehran accountable for its past nuclear activities.
"The bad news is that there have been failures and breaches. The good news is that there has been a new chapter in cooperation," he said. "There is an intensive discussion right now on the draft resolution. The latest version being discussed is quite strong."
Still, the agency does not know if Iran has tried to build nuclear weapons. That, he told the board, "will take some time and much verification effort."
But he welcomed Tehran's recent cooperation with the agency.
"The situation has changed significantly since the middle of last month, when a new chapter of implementation of safeguards in Iran seems to have begun, a chapter that is characterized by active cooperation and openness on the part of Iran," he said in his speech to the closed-door meeting. A copy was made available on the body's website.
"The report before you is factual and comprehensive. It is intended to enable the Board to exercise its responsibilities, prerogatives and options. I trust that in doing so you will continue to foster the joint efforts of Member States and the Secretariat to do their utmost to ensure full respect for non-proliferation obligations, primarily through verification and diplomacy. In the case of Iran, we have made a good start, but we need to stay the course," ElBaradei concluded. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)