UN nuke agency to discuss Iran, S. Korea
Updated: 2004-11-26 20:31
VIENNA, Austria - Delegates at a key U.N. meeting moved close to agreement
Friday on how to deal with illicit past South Korean plutonium and uranium
experiments but continued to wrestle with a stubborn dispute over Iran's
interpretation of a freeze on uranium enrichment.
Hossein Mousavian, the chief Iranian delegate to the board meeting of the
International Atomic Energy Agency, told The Associated Press that his country
was "committed" to the freeze.
|Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Mohamed ElBaradei and chairwoman Ingrid Holl from Canada, from left, wait
for the start of the 35-nation board of governors meeting on Iran's
nuclear program and South Korea's past secret nuclear
experiments, on Thursday, Nov. 25, 2004, at Vienna's International Center.
But differences over what that meant threatened to scuttle the enrichment
suspension deal ！ and increase sentiment for a referral of Iran's nuclear file
to the U.N. Security Council.
The issue of Iran threatened to drag on into the weekend, which would
force an extension of the International Atomic Energy Agency board meeting past
its planned close Friday.
A report summarizing 1 1/2 years of IAEA investigations says the agency
remains unable to determine if nearly two decades of Iranian nuclear activities
were purely peaceful or if the government had a secret weapons agenda.
But the main issue is Iran's interpretation of its deal with the European
Union to freeze all activities linked to uranium enrichment, which can produce
both nuclear fuel and the material for the core of atomic warheads.
Diplomats said Iran continued to demand on Friday that it be allowed to
operate 20 centrifuges ！ although the EU says the Nov. 7 deal mandates a
suspension of all activities related to enrichment, including running the
centrifuges, which spin gas into fuel-level or weapons-grade uranium.
One of the delegates described Iran's move as an attempt at arm twisting
to wrest concessions on the language of a resolution on how to police the
freeze. Tehran wants any text stripped of indirect allusions to a "trigger
mechanism" that would enable the board to ask the U.N. Security Council to deal
with violations of the suspension pledge.
IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei also suggested the two issues were linked,
telling reporters he hoped the Iranians would reconsider "once they get an
"I'm optimistic things are moving in the right direction," he said as the
Mousavian, the chief Iranian delegate, said his country "is committed to
suspension" as he headed into a meeting with EU negotiators. Asked about the
terms, he said, "That's what we need to talk about."
Afterward, he spelled out what Iran wanted in the resolution: a
commitment to close Iran's nuclear file at the IAEA; no "trigger mechanism" and
no "special" policing of the country's nuclear activities.
Describing the deadlock over the 20 centrifuges as "not an important
issue," he said negotiations would continue with the IAEA and the EU.
Iran's demands did not signal an immediate danger because thousands of
centrifuges must operate for months to produce enough highly enriched uranium
for a nuclear warhead.
The Europeans say the deal committed Iran to full suspension of
enrichment and all related activities while the two sides discuss a pact meant
to provide Iran with EU technical and economic aid and other concessions.
The proposed deal also commits Iran to a pledge not to reprocess
plutonium ！ which it would be able to do in several years time, once it
completes work on a heavy water reactor in the city of Arak.
With the EU deal envisaging a light-water reactor for Iran ！ from which
extraction of weapons-grade nuclear material is difficult ！ diplomats said the
Europeans hoped Iran would not complete its heavy water facility.
On the issue of South Korea, delegates said the overwhelming sentiment was to
issue a statement of rebuke over the experiments, which produced minute amounts
of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium.
The delegates from Europe and Asia, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said
the statement could stop short of letting Seoul off the hook by holding out the
implicit threat of being referred to the U.N. Security Council should ongoing
IAEA investigations reveal new, serious contraventions of the Nuclear
While the IAEA viewed the South Korean violations as "a matter of serious
concern. ... we are also saying that we have not seen any continuation of these
experiments," ElBaradei said at the start of the meeting Thursday.
Y.J Choi, South Korea's deputy foreign minister, told the board scientists
involved in the experiments did not notify the government.