01 October 2003
IAEA Inspectors Leave for Iran
Director says inspections will be "intense"
By Judy Aita
United Nations -- A team of senior inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is expected to arrive in Tehran October 2 to begin an "active and intense period of talks and inspections" relating to Iran's nuclear enrichment program, the United Nations spokesman said October 1.
U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said IAEA has given Iran a detailed work plan for the month of October that includes technical talks and a number of inspections. IAEA experts will also be investigating other issues needing clarification concerning laser activities, the heavy water program, conversion work, and the production of uranium metal.
In Vienna, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei called on Iran to provide "full transparency and full disclosure" of its nuclear program.
The coming weeks will be "decisive," ElBaradei told reporters in Vienna. The October 31 deadline imposed by the IAEA Board of Governors is "non-negotiable" and should allow Iran "ample time ... to come with a full and accurate declaration," he said.
Outlining the inspection program to the IAEA Board of Governors in September, ElBaradei said the inspectors will attempt to sort out a number of unresolved questions in Iran involving the capability -- namely enrichment -- to produce weapons usable material: contamination of equipment, importation of enriched uranium, enrichment inside Iran, or a combination of the three.
"We have seen different levels of enrichment, different isotopes, and that raises the question of where this enrichment has taken place," he said. "Iran maintains that is the result of contamination. We need to clarify that as early as possible."
Another enrichment issue is the question of the testing of centrifuges," ElBaradei said. "Our experts tell us that testing with nuclear material must have taken place for Iran to reach the stage that it has. We need now to reconcile the opinion of our experts with the explanation provided by Iran."
"We need full transparency and proactive cooperation by Iran. The pattern of response observed so far will not enable us to resolve the issues in a reasonable timeframe," the director general said.
"Iran should not wait for us to ask questions and then respond; it should come forward with a complete and immediate declaration of all its nuclear activities. That would be the best way to resolve the issues," he said.
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)