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Tags: UN | watchdog | special | case

UN Watchdog Says Iran 'Special Case'

Monday, 07 June 2010 08:34 AM EDT

VIENNA – UN atomic watchdog chief Yukiya Amano described Iran on Monday as a "special case" in terms of the agency's monitoring work owing to allegations of possible military dimensions to its contested atomic drive.

The West accuses Iran of seeking to build a nuclear bomb, a charge that Tehran vehemently denies. But after more than seven years of intensive investigation, the International Atomic Energy Agency is still not in a position to state once and for all that the Islamic republic's nuclear activities are entirely peaceful as Tehran claims.

Iran insists that its case should be treated as routine matter by the IAEA, as is the case with any other member state.

But in his opening address to the agency's 35-member board of governors here, Amano said: "Iran is a special case because, among other things, of the existence of issues related to possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme."

The IAEA's regular June board meeting is taking place as the UN Security Council in New York prepares to vote on a further round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear work.

In its latest report on Iran, circulated to member states last week, the IAEA complained that Tehran is pressing ahead with its contested uranium enrichment activities -- despite three existing rounds of UN sanctions -- and is now producing enriched uranium at even higher levels of purification.

And the report said the agency remained concerned about the true nature of Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities," Amano told the closed-door session of the board of governors again on Monday.

Amano also said the IAEA was still waiting an official response from the United States, France and Russia to Iran's proposed fuel swap deal with Turkey and Brazil.

Amano said he had forwarded the proposed agreement to Washington, Paris and Moscow for their views immediately after receiving it from Iran on May 24.

"I am now awaiting their responses, and will continue to consult with all concerned parties on this matter," Amano said.

Diplomats close to the Vienna-based watchdog have said the so-called Vienna group of countries had drawn up a joint response to Tehran's proposal and were expected to hand it over to Amano imminently.

Under an IAEA-brokered deal last October, the United States, Russia and France had originally proposed they take most of Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) and turn it into the much-needed fuel for a research reactor in Tehran that makes radioisotopes for medical use.

But Iran refused to take up the offer and has drawn up an alternative deal with Brazil and Turkey instead.

The West has for its part cold-shouldered Iran's proposal, saying it did not go far enough to allay fears that Tehran is using its contested nuclear drive as a mask for a covert atomic weapons programme.

Washington says it has the support of the four other permanent veto-wielding UN Security Counicl members -- Russia, China, Britain and France -- for the new round of sanctions on Iran to be adopted.

The IAEA board meeting, scheduled to last all week, has a heavy agenda, and will focus not only on Iran, but also on Syria.

And Arab countries have succeeded in putting Israel on the agenda for the first time since 1991.

Israel is widely believed to have nuclear weapons, but it maintains a policy of refusing to deny or acknowledge its nuclear arsenal.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano recently asked member states for ideas on how to persuade Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and accept IAEA inspections.

On Monday, Amano said he had received replies from 17 governments out of a total 151 so far.

"Following the meeting of the board, I intend to remind those governments which have not done so to provide their replies at their earliest convenience," the Japanese diplomat said.

"I will report to the board and the general conference in September."

Washington's envoy to the IAEA, Glyn Davies, said discussion at this point was "premature".

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

VIENNA – UN atomic watchdog chief Yukiya Amano described Iran on Monday as a "special case" in terms of the agency's monitoring work owing to allegations of possible military dimensions to its contested atomic drive.
Monday, 07 June 2010 08:34 AM
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