Reuters: Iran needs to do more than simply comply with its legal obligations if it wants to gain international trust about its nuclear ambitions, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog has said. By Mark Heinrich
VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran needs to do more than simply comply with its legal obligations if it wants to gain international trust about its nuclear ambitions, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog has said.
Mohamed ElBaradei’s forthright message, delivered at the end of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting last week, underscored deep frustration with what he called “a standstill” after three years of investigations in Iran.
“In the case of Iran, the unique element is that … we started from a situation where we came to realize there had been activities for 20 years which we did not know about,” he said in off the cuff remarks, a transcript of which was given to Reuters.
“Obviously that creates a different situation and means that Iran must take the initiative to explain what happened.”
Iran says its nuclear program is purely civilian. Western nations suspect Tehran has secret plans to make atomic weapons and are pushing for U.N. sanctions to pressure it to halt potentially weapons-related atomic work.
ElBaradei said he had tried to impress on Iran that “you need to go out of your way” and grant full transparency.
“Much of that goes beyond the … Safeguards Agreement, so the solution is not going to be found by relying on one legal clause or another,” ElBaradei said.
IRAN ALLOWS NEW SAMPLES
Iran confirmed on Tuesday that it would allow U.N. inspectors to take further environmental samples of research equipment linked to previous finds of highly enriched — or weapons-grade — uranium.
ElBaradei said last week that Iran had also agreed to let agency inspectors examine operating records at its pilot uranium enrichment plant at Natanz. He called Iran’s gestures on sampling and enrichment records “steps in the right direction”.
Tehran is not required to allow IAEA inspectors into sites it has not declared to be engaged in nuclear activities. But it says that by permitting such inspections, it wants to show its nuclear plans are peaceful.
But several analysts and diplomats who follow Iran’s nuclear case closely said Tehran’s latest concessions were mere gestures and did not represent a significant improvement in transparency.
In his later remarks ElBaradei said Iran must allow inspectors to conduct short-notice checks of any site “that we were told might be relevant” to get to the bottom of questions about clandestine activity.
“When we ask questions in Iran, we ask them because we want to reconstruct the ‘history’. What did Iran procure? Who was involved? What was a certain experiment for? When and where did it take place?” said ElBaradei.
“We still need an explanation of the program from its inception to the present day: how it was developed, what is the scope. That means meeting people, getting records…”