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Team from UN nuclear watchdog to go to Iran to discuss outstanding issues

12 August 2005, UN News Center - A team from the United Nations agency entrusted with curbing the spread of nuclear weapons is set to go to Iran today to discuss outstanding issues dealing with safeguards, contamination and the extent of the country's uranium enrichment programme.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei announced the move following yesterday's adoption by the IAEA Board of Governors of a resolution calling on Iran to reverse its decision to resume activities at its Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) in Isfahan.

Iran voluntarily suspended this and other uranium-enrichment activities last year while negotiating with European Union (EU) nations France, Germany and Britain (the so-called EU-3) on its programme, which it insists is for energy production but which some countries, including the United States, say is aimed at producing nuclear weapons.

Enriched uranium can be used for peaceful purposes, such as generating energy, or for making nuclear weapons, and the EU-3 have said a resumption of activities in Isfahan would mean the end of the negotiations. The IAEA has been looking into Iran's programme ever since the disclosure two years ago that for almost two decades it had concealed its nuclear activities in breach the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Speaking to reporters after yesterday's meeting in Vienna Mr. ElBaradei noted that the Board called on Iran to "rectify the situation" but also underlined the importance of further discussion about Iran´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 EU-3 that they are ready to continue negotiations," he said.

"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."

He reiterated his hope that the current issue of the UCF is just a temporary problem. "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," he added.

The above article comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. © UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2004

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