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At a press briefing for international journalists today in Vienna, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei addressed issues concerning the verification of nuclear programmes in Iran, Iraq, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
He said that he will head a team of Agency technical experts for talks now scheduled in February 2003 with Iran's President and senior officials on the country's expanding nuclear programme. Recent reports about Iran's nuclear activities "have not come as a surprise to the IAEA," he said, citing Agency discussions with Iranian authorities over the past six months. He emphasized the need for IAEA verification through on-site inspections. He urged Iran -- which has a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA pursuant to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) -- to grant IAEA inspectors broader rights of access and authority for verification of both declared and undeclared nuclear activities through the conclusion of an additional protocol to its safeguards agreement.
He point out that the IAEA received and has responded to a letter from the DPRK on its decision to lift the freeze on its nuclear facilities. He urged North Korean authorities "to exercise restraint in a tense situation" and called for full cooperation. He underscored points made in a statement issued by the IAEA 12 December. "It's essential that our safeguards measures stay in place," he said. Read Statement.
He said inspectors continue to work hard to verify claims by Iraq that it has no nuclear weapons programme. "We are not taking claims at face value," he said and will apply the "full complement of inspection activities", including IAEA on-site inspections, analysis of the Iraq declaration received on 8 December, and other information that may be provided by States. He said the IAEA has not yet completed its initial analysis of the Iraq declaration. He pointed out that that he and Dr. Hans Blix, head of UNMOVIC, will provide a preliminary assessment to the Security Council on Thursday, 19 December. He said the Iraqi declaration includes 300 pages submitted in Arabic that address the period 1998 to 2002. It contains "some new information", he said, whose significance must still be more fully assessed.