Reuters: South Africa, which takes the chair of the U.N. Security Council in March, said on Wednesday it would urge Iran to show transparency to the U.N. nuclear watchdog to avert a showdown over its atomic ambitions. CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – South Africa, which takes the chair of the U.N. Security Council in March, said on Wednesday it would urge Iran to show transparency to the U.N. nuclear watchdog to avert a showdown over its atomic ambitions.
The International Atomic Energy Agency says a lack of full Iranian cooperation has left it unable after over three years of investigations to verify that Tehran’s nuclear activities are wholly peaceful. The West suspects Iran’s professed civilian nuclear energy drive is a front for assembling atom bombs.
Iran’s Islamic government insists the programme is aimed only at fuelling power plants for electricity.
“We will urge the Iranians to really comply with the requests for the full disclosure to the IAEA of their past programmes. There are three or four outstanding issues, there are not very much more. It’s not fundamental, we believe,” South African Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad said.
He told a news briefing in Cape Town that South Africa did not believe available evidence proved Iran was engaged in a nuclear weapons programme.
South Africa abandoned its own nuclear arms programme before the end of apartheid in 1994, the only country to do so publicly. But it opposes forcing other nations to halt uranium enrichment, saying this could hurt its potential commercial activities to supply the nuclear power industry.
South Africa’s view on Iran is sure to heighten tensions in a divided Security Council, with the United States — one of five permanent members with veto powers, or “P5” — ratcheting up pressure as friction over Iran’s nuclear programme escalates.
“It’s clear that this issue will be then part of the Security Council agenda. At the moment it’s the P5, which includes Russia and (in addition) Germany, (which) are doing all the consultation behind closed doors,” said Pahad.
He said that until a draft resolution emerged, which everybody could discuss, there was “very little” South Africa could comment on. “We would hope, and as we have continuously said, that we must find a political solution to Iran’s nuclear programme,” Pahad said.
He said South Africa’s government will try and gauge the mood in the Middle East when a senior delegation travels to Iran next month for bilateral political consultations and visits other countries in the region.
Pahad said this was important in the light of a bipartisan U.S. panel’s report that indicated Iran and Syria must be involved in diplomatic efforts to stabilise the region.