UN urges nuke cooperation from NKorea, Iran, Syria
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Tuesday urged North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons, Iran to resolve outstanding issues about its suspect nuclear program, and Syria to answer questions about an alleged covert nuclear reactor.
In a report to the U.N. General Assembly, Yukia Amano expressed serious concern about North Korea’s third and most powerful nuclear test in February 2013 and its intention to expand uranium enrichment and construct a light water reactor in violation of U.N. sanctions.
North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 2003 and reiterated Monday that it needs nuclear weapons to deter U.S. attacks and defend its sovereignty. Amano said the International Atomic Energy Agency has not been able to verify any measures in North Korea since April 2009.
He urged North Korea to comply with sanctions — which ban nuclear tests and demand that the country “abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs” — and cooperate with the IAEA and the NPT.
Amano spoke ahead of next week’s round of talks about Iran’s nuclear program in Geneva between Iran’s top nuclear negotiator and six world powers. Both sides described their last round of these talks in October as positive, with Tehran ready to discuss some curbs on programs that can create both atomic energy and the fissile core of nuclear arms.
Amano told the assembly that the IAEA “cannot conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities” — as it claims.
But he said there was “a productive meeting” last week between IAEA and Iranian officials on past and present issues regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
“Iran presented a new proposal on practical measures as a constructive contribution to strengthening cooperation and dialogue with a view to the future resolution of all outstanding issues,” Amano said.
He said another meeting will be held on Nov. 11 in Tehran “in order to take this cooperation forward.”
The IAEA director general also raised his report in May 2011 which concluded that a building destroyed in the Syrian desert at Dair Alzour in 2007 was “very likely” a nuclear reactor, which should have been declared to the nuclear watchdog.
“The agency has not received any new information that would affect that assessment,” Amano said. “I again urge Syria to cooperate fully with the agency in connection with unresolved issues related to the Dair Alzour site and other locations” which he didn’t identify.
Syria’s U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari refuted the IAEA claim in 2011, questioning the credibility of U.S. Central Intelligence Agency imagery and analysis and asking why the U.S. refused to provide the IAEA with satellite photos of the bombed area for six weeks after the Israeli attack.