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Director General Briefs Press on North Korea, Iran & Budget Increase

Press Briefing

Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei talking to the media after briefing the IAEA´s Board of Governors on the DPRK and budget concerns. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

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IAEA Inspectors will return to monitor and verify the shutdown of the Yongbyon nuclear facilities in the Democratic People´s Republic of Korea, after a report outlining the modalities reached between the Agency and the DPRK was approved today by the IAEA Board of Governors meeting in Vienna, Austria. The 35 Member Board also adopted a 4.2% increase to the IAEA Budget for 2008-2009.

After the meeting, Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, spoke to reporters about the latest developments in North Korea, Iran and the budget increase, stating:

On North Korea

"I reported to the Board that I am pleased with the agreement we reached during Mr. Olli Heinonen´s, Deputy Director General for Safeguards, mission to Pyongyang last week. He visited the facilities at Yongbyon, we agreed on the modalities that need to be taken to shut down the four facilities there, with a view to an eventual abandonment... This is the beginning of a long and complex process, but I welcome the return of the DPRK to the verification process...

"When do we go to the DPRK? I think that depends on the invitation we receive from the DPRK. However, our expectation is that it should be in the next week or two that we should be able to go there. According to our experts, the shutting down of the facilities should not take much time, probably a few days. But then we would have to install cameras and put other equipment in place to ensure that we are able to monitor these facilities."

On IAEA Budget for 2008-2009

"I´m pleased to report that the Budget has been adopted with a 4.2% increase. However, I made it clear to the Board that this is far from adequate to meet our increasing responsibilities in the area of verification, safety, security and development.

"I told them that I am commissioning a comprehensive study of the Agency´s programmatic and financial requirements for the next decade. I am convening a high-level panel of experts to look into how we can match these programmatic needs with adequate financial resources in a predictable and assured way...

"I made it clear to them [the Board of Governors] that we need to have a completely fresh look at how we finance the Agency. This is a completely new Agency with expanded responsibilities and critical missions to carry out and we cannot continue business as usual, talking about zero growth...

"I made it clear that my expectation is that the panel will come with a recommendation for a major increase in the budget, maybe even doubling the budget, because I can see myself that the investment needed in the infrastructure alone is something in the neighbourhood of 150 million dollars... My approach is that the more we invest in preventive measures, the better it is for everyone...

"I should also take note with appreciation of President Bush´s and President Putin´s joint declaration last weekend at Kennebunkport in the US, when they made it very clear that they fully understand the need for additional financial resources for the Agency to meet its increasing responsibilities including the growing interest in nuclear power. This is a good message coming from two leaders and I hope that message, looking at the big picture, will be followed in the future."

On Verification in Iran

"A mission is going to Iran tomorrow to discuss with Iranian authorities ways and means to resolve outstanding issues... This is again something I very much welcome... I very much, sincerely hope that Iran will seize that opportunity to work in earnest with us in a fast-track mode. I hope to be able to come back and report positively on the result of this visit... There are obviously a number of complex issues that have to do with contamination, plutonium experiments, origin of the P1, P2 centrifuges... I was told by Mr. Larijani during my meeting with him here last week, that they are now ready and committed to work with us to resolve the outstanding issues. I think that this would be a major breakthrough, but I have to reserve that judgement until the mission comes back.

"On Iran´s enrichment programme, our inspectors were there last week and saw a slowing in the process of commissioning new cascades. This is something again I welcome. I talked to Mr. Larijani about it, and made it clear to him that there is no need to expand their programme at this stage, at a time when the international community is asking them to freeze it, dismantle it or suspend it. We have seen fairly slow development in commissioning new cascades or feeding of material. This is something which, as I said, I welcome. At this stage, Iran needs to do everything to cool things down, and we need to shift from a mode of confrontation to a mode of goodwill and cooperation. And I hope that the slowing down will continue. As I said, if that were to be coupled by an act of cooperation by Iran in resolving the outstanding issues, that will definitely be a step in the right direction, influencing the action of the Security Council and the conditions for returning to the negotiating table.

"Our coming visit could be very important in that respect because if we see a sincere effort by Iran to work on resolving the outstanding issues, if we see, hopefully, a freeze by Iran of the level of enrichment cascades they are building, I´m sure this would influence, as I said, the action of the parties to enter into negotiations."

On Negotiation

"One of the reasons, in my view, that made it possible to reach an agreement with the DPRK was that the Parties decided to talk face-to-face, and the US agreed to talk to the DPRK directly. I would like to see that also happening in the case of Iran: a resumption of the talk with the six parties and Iran. Most importantly, a dialogue between the US and Iran would help in so many ways, enabling us to make progress. You need to sit together, discuss your problems, discuss how you reconcile your differences, build confidence, and understand where the other party is coming from. The earlier we create the conditions for the parties to sit around a negotiating table and talk face-to-face, the better the prospect that we will make progress," Dr. ElBaradei told reporters.

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