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Transcripts of Interviews

Transcript of the Director General´s Press Statement on IAEA Inspection in Iran, Libya & the Republic of Korea

IAEA Headquarters, Vienna

Delivered on morning and afternoon of 13 September 2004

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

I hope that the Board deliberation as always, will go smoothly. I will report this morning to the Board on how I see things. Obviously there will be a good time spent on responding to my statement, in drafting resolutions, and I´ll keep you informed as we go along.

Q: Dr. ElBaradei, do you think that November should be the end of the process for Iran?

A: Well, I never set any deadline. It depends on co-operation. It depends on the kind of co-operation we get from Iran, the kind of co-operation we get from other Member States, which is also indispensable to our ability to understand some of the issues. So, it is an open process and we finish when I believe that we are finished.

Afternoon Statement

I reported on the state of play of the different issues before the Board. On Libya we have made good advances in our verification of the Libyan programme and we have reached a point where additional activities will be looked at as part of our routine verification activities.

With regard to the Republic of Korea, I reported on the new information that came to our knowledge that there was enrichment activity at the experimental level in 2000, and that there was also some separation of plutonium in the early 80s. We obviously have sent a team to Seoul upon ROK informing us of these activities. We still have a lot of work to do. We are getting active co-operation by the Republic of Korea and I hope that co-operation will continue. I will be in a position in November to give a full written report on these activities, including its nature and scope. And hopefully be able by that time to assure the international community that these activities are isolated activities and that all measures have been taken to ensure their non-recurrence. Clearly, any activities that involve separation of plutonium or enriching of uranium are matters of serious concern from a proliferation perspective and therefore we are going to treat them with the seriousness they deserve.

With regard to Iran, again as I mentioned to the Board, I made a clear distinction between two types of responsibilities. We assume one is ensuring compliance by Iran of its legal obligation under the Safeguards agreement and the Additional Protocol, and there I am pleased to note, that we are making steady progress in understanding the nature and extent of Iran´s nuclear programme. Some of the issues like laser, like conversion, we have again reached a point when additional work would be conducted as part of our routine, verification activities.

With regard to the central issue of enrichment in Iran, again we are making some progress particularly with regard to the contamination. As you saw, I reported, it is plausible, according to our analysis that enrichment did not take place at Kalaye or at Natanz, however we still need to do much more work with regard to the contamination, to make sure that there is no undeclared enrichment in Iran, or undeclared nuclear material there. With regard to the advanced centrifuges, again we are making progress but we still need further information to make sure, to confirm or validate Iran´s statement that nothing has happened in the period between 1995 to 2002. The other set of issues that we are dealing with is the confidence building measures that have been requested by the Board for Iran to suspend enrichment related and reprocessing activities until assurances have been provided by me to the Board and until the Additional Protocol has been fully applied. There again, I reported that while we can assure the Board that there is no enrichment per-se, Iran has reversed some of its earlier decision with regard to testing or producing some enrichment components. I clearly, calling on Iran, as well as many Board Members that at this delicate phase, while we are still verifying Iran´s past programme, it is in the interest of Iran to do its utmost to continue to pursue a policy of full transparency and to show full co-operation, full and active co-operation, for us to be able to resolve the remaining issues in the next few months and provide the required assurances to the international community. To me this should be a precursor, or a trigger for a broader dialogue on many of the underlying issues that are under discussion between Iran and the Europeans, in particular, and the international community in general. So, that´s where we are on some of the issues that we are facing this week. There is obviously a lot of discussion among Board Members on resolutions to respond to my report, but these discussions are at quite an early stage.

Q: Has Iran indicated to you today that they have again partially suspended centrifuge assembly and construction?

A: I have been in discussion, as I have mentioned, with Iran, the European 3, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, and I have also been in discussion with Iran, urging them to go back into full suspension, the discussion is still ongoing. I still hope that within this week, maybe some positive results can come out of these discussions. That´s obviously part of the discussion Iran is conducting with the three Europeans as part of their discussion with regard to the content of the resolution, which is being discussed. However, in my view, and I made that very clear to Iran, they have everything to benefit by showing full transparency, to try to establish as much confidence as possible at this delicate stage, I think this would be, as I said, could be the beginning of a broader dialogue which would allow a political settlement of this issue.

Q: Why is the IAEA conducting verification activities in Iran and not Israel?

A: It´s a question I have answered so many times – the Agency has a clear cut jurisdiction, a mandate. Our mandate is to verify nuclear programmes of countries that are party to the NPT. Iran is a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as well as another 184 non-nuclear weapons states. Some other countries like Israel, India, Pakistan as well as the five weapons states, are not party to, are not subject to our verification. India, Pakistan and Israel are not party to the NPT and while I would like, in the future, to see everyone subject to comprehensive verification, right now, the Agency have no jurisdiction or mandate to do such verification. So it is not a question of double standards, it is a question of mandate and jurisdiction that is entrusted by the international community to the Agency.

Q: What about reports that enrichment in the Republic of Korea was up to 77%, very close to being bomb grade level. And secondly, do you think in Iran, uranium conversion is part of the agreement to suspend enrichment related activities?

A: Well, on the level of enrichment in Korea, Michael, I think we, I would like to wait until we go and do our technical measurements. I know that the average enrichment in Korea was about 10%, there could be some higher peak. But I would like to wait until we do our measurements. On your second question, uranium conversion has always been a controversial issue, whether that has been part of the suspension or not. Iran has stated on a number of occasions that they never accepted suspension with regard to the conversion. At an earlier stage, the Agency thought that they were, that it was part of the suspension, but they made it clear that they never made a commitment to have conversion as part of the suspension.

Q: (Inaudible)

A: Well it is delicate because the international community, as I mentioned in my report, is clearly concerned about the nature of the Iranian programme and we´d like to clarify any doubts surrounding that programme as early as possible. The programme has also a history of being undeclared for many years so it was difficult for us to reconstruct that programme and it is also part of the problem that there are international concerns about that programme, so it is a delicate stage because we are making progress, but we would like bring our investigation to a closure and yes, I still am of the view that should I get full co-operation, not only by Iran but, I have said, there is an increasing co-operation on the part of Iran, but I´d like to see co-operation also by countries that provided equipment, that provided components. This is crucial to our understanding of some of the issues, like contamination, for example. On the assumption that everybody will give us a hand, I would like to see some of these issues clarified by the end of the year.

Q: (Inaudible)

A: Our role is to present the facts to the Board of Governors. I have presented the report, which I think is very clear, in terms of where we are today, what we have done with regard to Iran´s compliance with its safeguards´ obligations, what we have done in terms of monitoring confidence building measures, requested by the Board. What is going to be the Board´s reaction, is something, clearly for the Board and it is not for me to express views on.

Q: Some members of the Board have expressed the view that the South Korean issue should be reported to the Security Council. Do you share this view? And second part of the question, do you really think that this issue can be dealt with by November, given that new elements and details seem to be coming out daily?

A: First of all we need to understand the nature and scope of the activities that took place in the Republic of Korea before we discuss what sort of action the Board needs to take. I think that the Board, at this stage, will simply ask me to continue to investigate the initial report we have received. And it will take us time, I would hope we can finish by November, but if not, then we will continue. Again, it depends on what we see; it depends of the level of co-operation we get from South Korea. But, as I said, so far, I am getting good transparency and good co-operation from Korea and I´ll hope we should get a comprehensive report and get to the bottom of this issue by November. Thank you very much.