In his annual report to the UN General Assembly, Mohammed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said he had urged Iran to pursue a policy of "maximum transparency" so that the outstanding issues could be resolved.
"This is clearly in the interest of both Iran and the international community," he stressed.
Describing the Agency's recent work in Iran and Libya as marked by "disturbing lessons," the IAEA chief hinted at the possibility of the existence of an "extensive illicit market" for the supply of nuclear items, which, he said, "clearly thrived on demand."
Noting that technical barriers to accessibility of nuclear technology have eroded overtime, Mr. ElBaradei stressed the need to find "better ways and means" to control the production of enriched uranium and the reprocessing of plutonium.
Reporting to the Assembly on the question of nuclear capabilities of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), he described the situation as "a serious challenge," while hoping that the six-party talks would lead the country to re-endorse the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
In his assessment of Libya's decision to roll back its nuclear weapons programme, the IAEA chief said it appeared to be "consistent with the information available," but added further investigation were still needed.
On the question of Iraq, Mr. ElBaradei said he hoped the Security Council would soon provide guidance on its mandate. "It is clearly important to bring the whole question of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to closure as soon as possible," he told the Assembly.
Referring to a mandate given to him by the IAEA's membership, Mr. ElBaradei said he intended to organize a forum early next year to explore the possibility of establishing a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East, hoping that such a move could strengthen efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement in the region.
... Payvand News - 11/2/04 ... --