IAEA Board of Governor to Discuss ElBaradei’s Iran Report

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-nation Board of Governors is due to discuss a recent report by the IAEA Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei on Iran’s nuclear activities later this week, a spokesman of the UN nuclear watchdog agency said. The spokesman, who asked to remain unnamed, told FNA that ElBaradei’s report on Iran’s past nuclear activities was on the Board’s working agenda, adding that the issue would be raised either during the Thursday or Friday session.

In his recent report to the Board of Governors on Thursday, Mohamed ElBaradei praised Iran’s cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog and described Tehran as truthful about key aspects of its past nuclear activities.

The report by the UN nuclear watchdog chief included the results of four rounds of talks between Iranian and IAEA officials as well as the views and studies conducted by the IAEA experts, including deputy Director General Ollie Heinonen, on Iran’s past nuclear activities.

The results of the two sides’ discussions about Iran’s P1 and P2 centrifuges are among the main topics raised in ElBaradei’s report. The last round of talks focused on P1 and P2 centrifuges. Iran’s centrifuges are believed to be mainly the P1 type, but Tehran has been seeking to operate the more advanced P2 types for enrichment purposes.

Talks on Iran’s centrifuge machines started on September 25 and 26, but the two sides refrained from revealing the contents of their meetings.

The talks are considered as a further step by Iran to build more confidence after it explained in written about the origin of uranium traces on its centrifuges last month.

Iran and the IAEA agreed in August on a plan of action that aims to remove all technical ambiguities by the IAEA over Iran’s nuclear projects, and at the same time prepare the ground for political talks between Jalili and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

According to Iran-IAEA agreement, the UN nuclear watchdog raised all its questions on the basis of a premeditated schedule, and Iran had to provide the required answers according to the same time-table.

Once they are through with the aforementioned action plan, the two sides have agreed to find a proper way to resolve the differences about the implementation of the nuclear safeguards in Iran.

The talks between Iran and the IAEA followed a groundbreaking agreement gained during a June meeting between Iran’s former nuclear negotiator and Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Ali Larijani and IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei in Vienna.

As a first tangible result of the same talks, Tehran allowed IAEA inspectors in August to revisit a heavy-water reactor under construction outside Arak in central Iran after several years.

The plan has vexed the US by allowing Iran to answer questions one by one according to a timeline while leaving untouched its uranium-enrichment program.

It has also wrong-footed a US-led push to rein in Iran by eroding European support for, and stiffening Russian resistance to, tougher UN sanctions. Iran won the reprieve by threatening to cut off relations with the IAEA if pressure intensifies.

Iran has vowed to carry on its uranium enrichment, insisting its program is peaceful and geared solely toward producing electricity. The United States and key Western allies accuse Tehran of covertly trying to build a nuclear weapon, but they have never presented any corroborative document or evidence to substantiate their allegations. Tehran denies the charges vehemently.

The UN Security Council has already imposed two sets of sanctions, mostly economic, on Iran. Iran has rejected both resolutions as illegal, saying it won’t give up its Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) right to enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel.

In mid-September, the Group 5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members – the US, Russia, China, Britain and France – plus Germany)delayed a vote on a new set of sanctions against the Islamic Republic until November. The vote was postponed pending reports from the IAEA director general and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

The Group 5+1 and IAEA’s board of governors are scheduled to have a joint meeting to review ElBaradei’s report.

The timing and toughness of any further UN sanctions against Iran will hinge on the IAEA report and a parallel report by the EU’s top diplomat on recent dialogue with Tehran.

The IAEA report showed Iran’s positive steps towards full transparency about its nuclear program, diplomats accredited to the agency said.

This could spur veto-holding Russia and China to persist in delaying harsh sanctions, arguing for more time for the IAEA process to bear fruit.

Iran said on November 3 it gave the IAEA all information needed to remove ambiguities about the first major issue on the list, work to develop centrifuges which enrich uranium, and there would be no more discussions about it.

ElBaradei told the governing board in September he aimed to get the main issues settled by the end of this year.

Iran and the IAEA ended four rounds of technical talks in Tehran last month.

Iran’s deputy chief nuclear negotiator, Javad Vaeedi, earlier said the two sides were satisfied with the course of their talks, and termed them constructive.

In all the four meetings, the IAEA team was headed by deputy IAEA head Olli Heinonen and the Iranian side by Vaeedi, who is deputy to Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili.

In the four rounds of talks, Heinonen was accompanied by IAEA director for foreign relations and policy making, IAEA regional director for safeguards, and IAEA’s legal advisor while Vaeedi was assisted by deputy chief of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Mohammad Saeedi and Iran’s permanent envoy to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh.

The inclusion of technical, legal and political officials in the IAEA delegation reveals that the two sides strive to solve their problems from different aspects.

While West has always sought to politicize Iran’s nuclear issue, Tehran insists that questions about its nuclear programs and activities are technical and legal in nature and should, thus, be verified by the IAEA and not by the UN Security Council.

Vaeedi earlier said Iran replied to all outstanding IAEA questions, and there would be no more technical talks until the next meeting of the IAEA board of governors.

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