IAEA suspends nuclear aid for Iran

Friday, March 9, 2007

Governors of the United Nations nuclear agency IAEA approved cuts in technical aid to Iran in accordance with UN sanctions. The move reflected UN Security Council Resolution 17-37 passed last December that bans the transfer of technology or expertise that might aid in producing nuclear fuel.

The 35-nation board, which is often split over issues on Iran, came to a consensus in ratifying the recommendation of the IAEA's Secretariat to suspend 22 of 55 technical aid programs involving Iran. These consist of four national programs in Iran and 18 regional or trans-regional programs that involve the country. The board did not suspend 33 other programs (11 national and 22 regional) all of which focus on medical and agricultural radio-pharmaceuticals and isotopes.

The United States and France who fund much of the IAEA's special aid programs had originally demanded more sweeping reductions.

Ali Akbar Velayati, international affairs advisor to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Thursday that the IAEA's decision was "politically-motivated".

Ali-Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, said his nation will not stop uranium enrichment activities and that suspended programs are not part of Iran's nuclear enrichment program and the sanctions will have no effect on it.

He stated "The enrichment program has been indigenous and independent, nobody, even the IAEA, have co-operated or worked with us. Therefore these projects will continue as planned under the supervision of the IAEA."

Soltanieh declared that the action had been dictated by the U.N. Security Council, and that this was an illegal act undermining the IAEA's professional independence.

IAEA board members joined in supporting IAEA's Director General Mohamed ElBaradei call for a "double suspension" where both enrichment and sanctions would stop concurrently.

Only North Korea and Saddam Hussein's Iraq have been stripped of nuclear aid because of fear of weapons development.