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Iran Agrees to Provide Early Design Information of Nuclear Facilities

IAEA Director General ElBaradei and Iranian President Khatami meeting in Tehran

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami (right) talks with IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei in Tehran on February 22, 2003. (Credit: Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters)

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During his 21-22 February trip to the Islamic Republic of Iran, the IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei visited a uranium enrichment plant under construction at Natanz, including a gas centrifuge pilot plant. He also met with President Khatami, Majlis Speaker Mehdi Karroubi, Chairman of the Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and the President of the Atomic Energy Organization Reza Aghazadeh. Two members of his team, IAEA Deputy Director General for Safeguards Pierre Goldschmidt and the Director for Safeguards Operations for the region, Olli Heinonen, are remaining in Iran this week to conduct a number of additional site visits.

During the Director General's visit, the Government of Iran committed itself to an additional legal obligation requiring the early provision of design information. "The Iranian Government has agreed to provide us as of now with early design information on any of its new nuclear facilities."

Dr. ElBaradei called on the Government of Iran to provide the Agency with additional inspection authority for verification of the country's expanding nuclear programme. "I am calling on each State party to the NPT, particularly those which have an advanced nuclear programme, to conclude with us a Protocol Addtional to its Safeguards Agreement. The Additional Protocol would enable us to provide more comprehensive assurances," said Dr. ElBaradei, "about the peaceful nature of a country's nuclear programme, especially regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities."

Iran announced last September that it had plans to build 6000 MWe capacity of nuclear power in the next 20 years. During the visit, Iran provided information on its plans for a nuclear fuel cycle.

The role of the IAEA is to verify, under a comprehensive safeguards agreement with a State, that all nuclear activities are not used for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

States party to the NPT are under an obligation to have comprehensive safeguards agreements with the Agency. In a growing number of States, the IAEA is also granted additional inspection authority under a protocol to these comprehensive safeguards agreements (called an Additional Protocol), the model for which was approved by the IAEA's Board of Governors in 1997 in the aftermath of the Gulf war.