"In view of the past undeclared nature of significant aspects of Iran's nuclear programme, a confidence deficit has been created, and it is therefore essential that Iran works closely with the Agency in a proactive manner in order for us to build the necessary confidence and achieve the required degree of assurance," the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) Director-General, Mohamed ElBaradei, stressed.
Mr. ElBaradei's statement to the IAEA Board of Governors in Vienna was the latest act in the saga that began two years ago when it became clear that Iran had for many years concealed its nuclear activities in breach of its legal obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Iran has consistently denied it is seeking nuclear weapons, insisting its programme is purely for energy generation but the IAEA chief has previously said his agency is not in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in the country.
Today he noted that since his last report in November, Iran has facilitated Agency access under its safeguards agreements to nuclear material, facilities and other locations, including a transparency visit to a military site.
The IAEA has also continued verification of Iran’s voluntary suspension of enrichment and reprocessing related activities that can produce the fuel needed for a nuclear weapon and has made progress in two important issues -the origin of contamination on equipment and information on Iran’s centrifuge programmes, which can yield enriched uranium.
"As the Agency continues to work towards completing its assessment of all outstanding issues related to Iran’s nuclear programme, I would encourage Iran to provide full transparency with respect to all of its nuclear activities, by providing in full detail and in a prompt manner all information that could shed light on some of the outstanding issues," Mr. ElBaradei said. "In some cases, the receipt of information is still pending, which in turn delays our work."
Turning to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), he said the country remained "a serious challenge to the nuclear non-proliferation regime" since it withdrew from the NPT two years ago, thus ending Agency verification.
"The recent declaration by the DPRK that it possesses nuclear weapons is a matter of the utmost concern and has serious security implications, and highlights yet again the importance and the urgency of finding a diplomatic solution through dialogue," he added.
"The Agency stands ready to work with the DPRK and with all others towards a solution that addresses both the security needs of the DPRK and the needs of the international community to ensure that all nuclear activities in the DPRK are exclusively for peaceful purposes."
Mr. ElBaradei also noted that Egypt had failed to report certain nuclear material and facilities, but only small amounts were involved, Egyptian scientists had discussed the matters openly in published scientific literature, and the country had taken corrective action to provide the required reports.
Nevertheless, these failures "are a matter of concern," he added, calling on all governments "to pay close attention to their reporting obligations, and treat them with the seriousness they deserve."