"I fully share President Bush objective that we need a better control of the fuel cycle," director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammad Elbaradei said.
"That issue has been triggered by Iran. It can surface with Iran, but the solution should not be Iran specific. It should be a broad international solution," he warned.
ElBaradei was being questioned by BBC television's Newsnight programme Thursday on concerns about Iran's nuclear programme during a visit to London to attend an IAEA international conference on nuclear security.
He said that it was "correct" that Iran had the legal right to produce nuclear material under the international guidelines of the NPT, but indicated that it was the risk of the technology being diverted for military purposes that was causing concern.
"We are exactly facing dilemma right now that the Non- Proliferation Treaty, international law if you like, allow every country to have an independent fuel cycle," the IAEA chief said.
He suggested that the key problem had moved on to fissile material from the 1970s, when the "difficult hurdle" of developing a nuclear bomb had been the "weaponisation part." The director general defended the NPT and role of the UN agency, saying that it was "still good enough to unearth most the Iran programme." He also did not buy claims that Iran was developing a military nuclear capability based on suspicions that, as a country with rich hydrocarbon reserves, it had no requirement for a civilian programme.
"There are many countries with gas and oil who have also embarked on nuclear generation. I would not necessarily conclude that because Iran wants to use nuclear electricity that it is synonymous with its ambitions to develop nuclear weapons," ElBaradei said.
He also put into context the discovery of Iran's undeclared nuclear programme, that has been used to generate alarm about its intentions.
"It was an undeclared programme at a very low level. People don't understand that 20 years is spent in procuring items, dual use items, but it was not really an operational nuclear programme," the IAEA chief said.
He defended the usefulness of NPT and the role of the IAEA, saying it "remained good enough to unearth most of the Iran programme." ElBaradei also made a comparison with the example of Libya storing nuclear items in warehouses, insisting "there is no system in the world that can discover that type of activity at that low level."
... Payvand News - 3/18/05 ... --