IAEA making progress in Iran, says ElBaradei

TOKYO, Oct 8: The UN nuclear watchdog is making "good progress" in its verification work in Iran but cannot yet say whether Tehran has diverted sensitive technology to weapons production, the agency chief said on Friday.

Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said the agency's job was to make sure that assurances from Iranian leaders are "reflected on the ground."

"We are still in the verification process in Iran. We are making good progress there; we have not seen materials diverted towards nuclear weapons," he told an audience of some 200 at the UN University in Tokyo.

"However, we have not yet completed our job to be able to say that no undeclared activities exist in Iran," he said after delivering a speech on nuclear non-proliferation.

The IAEA chief in the speech urged an eventual total ban on nuclear weapons which should one day be "perceived like genocide." He urged existing nuclear powers to demonstrate their leadership on non-proliferation.

"If the weapons states would like to have more authority to be able to push for non-proliferation, they have to show themselves that they are taking very seriously their commitment under the non-proliferation treaty," he said.

"You cannot continue to have a cigarette dangling from your mouth and ask everybody else not to smoke." ElBaradei said the world needed an alternative system that does not depend on nuclear weapons, with collective security rooted in the UN Security Council. But he acknowledged the UN system has also had problems. "Collective security has not been working very well (under the UN system) for a variety of reasons," he said. -AFP

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