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Transcripts of Interviews

Transcript of Director General´s Remarks at Conclusion of IAEA Board Meeting

IAEA Headquarters Vienna

Delivered 8 March 2006

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

The Board has, as you know, completed its consideration of the Iran issue. I guess you got the flavour of the different views expressed during the discussion. However, I can say that there are common threads that go throughout the discussion.

The first, that Iran needs to continue to be more transparent working with the Agency. I think there is complete agreement that Iran needs to go the extra mile and work with us. Nobody would be more happy than I when we are able to conclude that all the outstanding issues in Iran´s nuclear programme have been clarified.

The second issue, is that Iran needs to continue to work and to take the required confidence building measures. This is also the result of the remaining outstanding issues; the lack of confidence in the peaceful nature of the programme. The Board and the international community, has been for a while, requesting Iran to continue to take confidence building measures. There is complete agreement in the Board on this issue.

Thirdly, I think that everybody is looking forward to a political settlement. I think, again, throughout the spectrum, everybody underscored the need to look for a comprehensive political settlement that takes account of all underlying issues. I think what we need at this stage is cool headed approaches. We need people to lower the rhetoric. I think we need to continue to see how we can move forward.

This is an issue which is going to take some time, it´s not going to be resolved tomorrow. It is quite complex but we need to put our heads together. Everybody will benefit from a political settlement of the Iranian issue. It would be a positive implication on an already a volatile area which is the Middle East.

I will convey my report, as requested by the February Board, to the Security Council today or tomorrow. Whether, when the Security Council will discuss the issue that´s obviously something for the Security Council to decide. What action the Security Council will take, again if they discuss the issue, that´s obviously for the Council to deliberate on.

I should again say, that everybody who spoke of the Security Council emphasised that this is simply a new phase of diplomacy, it´s an extension of the diplomatic effort to find a solution. And we should not forget that a primary responsibility of the Security Council is the peaceful settlement of disputes. And I think that is where everyone is looking to the Security Council at this stage. To quote some of the speakers, to lend its weight to the Agency efforts, so as to make sure that Iran works as closely as possible with us, so that Iran will take the required confidence building measures, and to use the Security Council, I assume, as a forum to find ways and means to bring back all the parties to the negotiating table.

As I told you a couple of days ago, there are a few options and one solution. The one solution is a comprehensive, political settlement of the security, political, economic issues that underlie the nuclear programme of Iran. We need a settlement that on the one hand assures Iran of its right to the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Nobody questions Iran´s right, I should say, but at the same time, assures the international community that the programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes.

We will continue to work here on our part of the mandate. Mr. Olli Heinonen and his team will continue to do inspections in Iran. I think we have teams slotted to go soon to Iran. Again, I will continue to ask Iran to be as transparent as possible. It is in Iran´s interests for us to be able to clear all outstanding issues. Clearing all the outstanding issues will have a definitely positive impact on confidence. It will impact positively on the confidence building measures required by Iran.

As with the Korean situation in the past, the North Korea situation, maybe for the next few weeks, few months, there will be some division of labour, we will continue to do the verification here, the Security Council will continue to deliberate on the global political picture; how to make sure that we can get Iran to cooperate fully; how we can make sure that there is a possibility for all the parties to go back to the negotiating table.

At the end of the day, I think the solution should engage all the parties. We now have the Europeans. I think as negotiations move forward, I believe that once we start to discuss security issues, my personal view is that also at one point is that the US should be engaged into a dialogue. But that´s far down the road. At this stage we need to make sure that Iran co-operates, we need to make sure that Iran is transparent, we need to make sure that Iran takes confidence building measures. I look forward to the Security Council to provide that support that can help us to move down the diplomatic road.

[Questions inaudible]

A: I am not disappointed. But, as you know if you have been, like you and I, working in this field for a while, things could have twists and turns. I was hoping that we would have achieved an agreement to get back to negotiations this week. It didn´t happen. But again it could happen next week, it could happen the week after. We are not really working on a very strict time line. We have time to try to get the parties together. On our side, we´ll continue to do our best to achieve that. Hopefully, as I said, the Security Council can also lend its hand to move things forward. I would have liked to have seen an agreement this week. There has been a lot of contact, dialogues, offers from all sides. Unfortunately we are not yet that this stage.

A: I don´t want to speculate. I´m not at the heart of this negotiation. My role is to make sure Iran cooperates with us, to make sure that all the outstanding issues have been resolved and how to strike a balance between Iran´s right to use nuclear energy and the concerns of the international community. There are so many ways to skin the cat, as they say. I don´t want to speculate on this issue. But I hope that everybody will go out of his or her way to make sure that we are moving toward a political settlement; because I don´t see any other option.

A: I think, it is normal, in many cases, that you keep the Security Council informed, and that is what I am doing. What exactly is the nature of the reporting? That is something for the Member States to say. The resolution said I should convey the discussion here, the report we have produced here, to the Security Council. Let´s not get much involved into the legalities. I think what is important here, there is a wish of the international community to get the Security Council to put its weight behind the Agency and that´s where we are.

A: I am still optimistic. When I said within a week, within two weeks, within three weeks, I´m still optimistic because I think sooner or later that all the parties will realize that there is no other option but to go back to negotiations, that Iran will understand that they need to be transparent if they want to restore the confidence of the international community, they need to take confidence building measures. How and under which modalities we´ll get the parties together, which kind of parties that will be talking each other, these are all questions I guess, that will be discussed at the Security Council in New York.

A: I hope we will not have an escalation. As I have said, I am worried, I think that Kofi Annan mentioned the same thing this morning, that we need to be cool headed, we need to lower the pitch on the rhetoric. I don´t think it would help to try to escalate, engage, in a war of words, if you like. That´s not going to help. As to how we can get back the parties to the negotiating table, there are so many options, so many modalities. I´d leave it to the parties. I know that everyone is talking to everybody else and that in itself, is a good sign.

A: I think it is an absolute misunderstanding that if we discuss issues in the Security Council this is a failure of the Agency. The Security Council is very much part of the non-proliferation regime. It figures in every safeguards agreement, it figures in our Statute, it figures in different forms and shapes. Right now the prevailing view is that we need to engage the Security Council, as I said, as a forum for political dialogue to work with the Agency. We have been working here for three years, we still have some outstanding issues. There is some controversy on whether Iran has made enough confidence building. I think that if the Security Council plays it role right, manages the file in a proper way, it could help us in moving that file forward. I would look forward to see you in June, I hope not before that. I hope that things will continue to move in the right track, we will keep you informed.

A: I should say for example, everybody mentions the Russian proposal so everybody again is looking to ways and means, to get as many parties engaged in finding a solution. We need first to get the parties to the negotiating table, once you get them to negotiating table there is a host of issues that needs to be discussed, as I said, security issues, economic issues. I expect also that once the Europeans restart negotiations, that they be as specific, as generous with their offer. We need to engage into a process of normalizing relationship between Iran and Europe and ultimately with the rest of the international community. I would not get into details. All I can tell you right now, we are using all the authority we have, it is not a question of special inspections. Right now what is needed in Iran is transparency, what we need right now is access to people, interviews with people, documents. You can only get that if Iran is willing to co-operate. This is not a question of lack of authority, it is a question of willingness to walk that extra mile and I hope that Iran will do that. We continue to work with them, encourage them, make it clear to them that we are here to help them to restore the confidence to get them out of the hole where they are today.