PRESS STATEMENT ON ACTIVITIES IN IRAN
BY MOHAMED ELBARADEI
INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY
August 11, 2005
IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei says he is encouraged that Iran and the "EU3" - UK, France and Germany - are ready to go back to the negotiating table. Dr. ElBaradei spoke to the Press at the end of a special session of the IAEA Board of Governors in Vienna today. Following is an unofficial transcript of his remarks.
The Board today adopted a resolution in reaction to the reports I made last week that Iran had restarted its conversion plant. The Board naturally expressed serious concern about Iran&acite;s unilateral decision to restart its suspended program.
The Board made it clear that the suspension continues to be an important confidence building measure. It has continuously been the BoardÂ´s view that although this is a voluntary undertaking on the part of Iran, it is still an important confidence building measure in light of IranÂ´s past undeclared program.
The Board continued to emphasize that this is helpful, essential in fact, to resolve outstanding issues. The Board called upon Iran to rectify the situation but also underlined the importance of further discussion about IranÂ´s decision. I read that to mean: a call to all parties to go back to the negotiation table. I was very encouraged, in fact, by the statements both by Iran and the EU3 that they are ready to continue negotiations.
Iran made it clear that they are ready to continue to negotiate. France today at the Board made it clear that they are ready to continue to negotiate, under Paris. To me this is the best way to proceed: continue through the negotiation, continue to develop a framework by which IranÂ´s future nuclear activities, as well as other interaction with Europe is regulated on the basis of a long-term agreement.
I was also asked by the Board to report on the implementation of Safeguards in Iran. I will report to the Board by 3 September both with the overall implementation of Safeguarding Iran as well as on the implementation of that resolution. I intend to do so. I think we still have a window of opportunity between now and my next report to regulate and rectify the situation within a broader context of negotiation.
We will continue, naturally, business as usual. We have a team going to Iran tomorrow to discuss remaining outstanding issues that have to do with safeguards, contamination, and the extent of their enrichment program. So, we are confident that we will continue to make progress. The Board noted the progress we have made and emphasised the importance of resolving outstanding issues.
REUTERS: Do you think that Iran resumed full suspension? A lot have said that there is no evidence to date of Iran having a weapons programme. Whether you feel thatÂ´s still true?
A: Well, whether Iran will resume full suspension is for Iran to decide. The Board has called on Iran, as I mentioned, to rectify the situation. We will obviously continue to monitor the situation, report on Iran, as well as with implementation of safeguards in Iran.
As you see in the Board resolution, we have said that all declared material in Iran is under verification, but we still are not in a position to say that there is no undeclared material or activities in Iran. So, with regard to the declared activities, it is under our custody. With regard to the country as a whole, the jury is still out.
INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE: Conversion activities could imply ultimately enrichment activities. Do you believe the Iranians will not reopen their enrichment programme?
A: I donÂ´t jump the gun. I donÂ´t read intentions. Iran today at the Board said that they will continue to have the activities at the enrichment factories suspended. They said that their conversion activities will continue to be under full IAEA verification. However, the Board, as I mentioned, said that they would like to see a full suspension, including conversion, because there is no urgent need to have a conversion activity right now and also because we have some outstanding issues.
Again, I would hope that Iran would take time to reflect on it. I hope that all the parties will take time to reflect on where we are. Clearly the message also of the Board that every effort should be made to diffuse the crisis, every effort should be made through negotiation, to go back to negotiating a broad future-looking framework agreement that regulates relations between Iran and the international community.
CNN: [unintelligible] ...you still think there is a window of opportunity?
A: The Iranians have said that they are willing to continue to negotiate with the Europeans. The E3 today said that they are ready to continue to negotiate under the Paris agreement. There is, as far as I know, a scheduled meeting at the end of this month of the Steering Committee to which the E3 and Iran will sit together. I hope that the meeting will go through. I hope within that meeting things will be worked out by which the negotiation on a long-term framework will continue. Iran will have an opportunity to respond to the European offer. I expect, I hope that Iran will come with their own version of how they see that relation regulated in the future.
So thatÂ´s my hope again. We have a hiccup, as I said, but it is not a final rupture and I think that I come from this Board optimistic that we will continue on the path of dialogue.
BLOOMBERG NEWS: How does IranÂ´s re-opened processing programme affect the AgencyÂ´s goals of having a Nuclear Weapons Free Middle East? And how does it impact some of the social, political and economic developments in the region?
A: Clearly resolving the Iranian issue, if you want to call it that, has a lot of implication for regional security for international peace and security. I think everybody is aware of that, hence the importance of a negotiated settlement of the Iranian nuclear activities both through our verification and through a long-term agreement with Europe and eventually with the United States. I would hope again that the lesson we learn from our Iran experience points to the importance of having a better framework for using nuclear energy.
I have been saying for a while that we cannot continue to see dissemination of sensitive fuel cycle activities. This is a problem that came to light with Iran but it goes much beyond Iran and I continue to work with my colleagues, with other countries to see how we can have a new framework based on assurance of supply by which every country will have the right to use nuclear energy for economic and social development without necessarily having an enrichment factory or a reprocessing factory.
AFP: The Iranians has said they will no longer honour the Paris agreement. How can the Paris agreement hold?
A: I cannot speak for Iran or the E3 or anyone else. I can speak for myself where I can only see one best way to move forward and that is through negotiation. The Iranians said they are ready to continue to negotiate, the Europeans said they are ready to continue to negotiate. Under which formula, they need to sort it out. But at the end of the day, I need to see diffusion of the situation. I need to see both parties exercising maximum restraint. I need to see that we are moving forward and through the paths of accommodation and not confrontation.
Thank you very much.