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Annan hails UN Council call on Iran to suspend N-activity

Written by: Staff

United Nations, Mar 31: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has said he hopes Iran will heed the Security Council statement calling upon Tehran to suspend all uranium enrichment-related and reprocessing activities in an effort to guarantee that its nuclear programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes.

In its first official action on the issue, which was referred to it by the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Council adopted by consensus a statement that such a suspension and full and verified Iranian compliance would contribute to a diplomatic solution.

The United States and other countries say Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies this, insisting it only seeks nuclear energy.

''The Secretary-General welcomes the spirit of consensus that was demonstrated yesterday (on Wednesday) by the members of the Security Council in the Presidential Statement on non-proliferation,'' Mr Annan said in a statement issued yesterday by his spokesman in New York.

''He hopes that Iran will heed the international community's concerns, as reflected in the Council statement, regarding Iran's nuclear programme and that it will cooperate fully with its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and successive International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolutions.'' Iran's nuclear programme has been a matter of international concern ever since the discovery in 2003 that it had concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its NPT obligations.

The latest IAEA report earlier this month said the Agency had not seen any diversion of nuclear material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, but it was not at that point in time in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran.

In its statement on Wednesday, the Security Council asked the Agency to report in 30 days on Iranian compliance with steps outlined by the IAEA Board of Governors.

In a resolution adopted in Vienna in February, the Board called for Iran to re-establish full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, to be verified by the Agency. It also asked Tehran to reconsider the construction of a research reactor moderated by heavy water.

The resolution also required Iran to ratify and implement the Additional Protocol and, pending ratification, continue to act in accordance with its provisions. In December 2003, Iran signed the Additional Protocol, which grants the IAEA expanded rights of access to information and sites, as well as additional authority to use the most advanced technologies during the verification process.

Iran voluntarily suspended uranium enrichment activities -- which can produce material for nuclear energy or for weapons -- in 2004 while negotiating with European Union (EU) nations France, Germany and Britain (the so-called EU-3) on its programme. But it resumed the process in August.


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