Thursday, 12 February 2004

Questions (107)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

99 Mr. O'Dowd asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the possible links between Pakistan and Iran concerning the development of a nuclear programme in Iran; the progress of investigations by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Iran; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4320/04]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

Concerns about the Iranian nuclear programme are being addressed in an ongoing process within the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA. Since June 2003 the director general of the agency, Dr. Mohamed El Baredei, has presented three reports on Iran to the IAEA board of governors. The board has adopted two resolutions on the issue which set out what the IAEA member states expect of Iran, essentially full co-operation with the agency in order to resolve all outstanding questions with regard to its nuclear programme. Considerable progress has been achieved in recent months with Iran presenting a declaration of activities to the IAEA and signing and implementing an additional protocol to its safeguards agreement with the agency. The process is, however, still ongoing and the director general will present another report to the board of governors at its next meeting which begins on 8 March.

During the IAEA's ongoing verification activities in Iran, questions arose regarding the source of equipment imported for use in Iran's programme. The agency signalled its intention to follow up on information received about the origins of such material, including with other relevant parties. The most recent resolution of the board of governors, adopted by consensus in November 2003, also reiterates that the urgent, full and close co-operation with the agency of all third countries is essential in the clarification of outstanding questions concerning Iran's nuclear programme. I would expect that the report of the director general to the board of governors next month will contain further information in this regard.

I am aware of the recent developments in Pakistan with regard to proliferation activities. Such revelations are, of course, a cause of concern and I would urge Pakistan to ensure a full investigation of these activities and to offer all assistance and co-operation required or requested by the International Atomic Energy Agency, particularly with regard to its ongoing verification activities in Iran and Libya. The director general will report on the agency's activities in both of these countries at the board of governors meeting on 8 March.

The IAEA, however, is not charged with implementing or overseeing export controls, which are a matter for each individual country. As more details about this trade in sensitive nuclear technology emerge, all countries will need to examine how to improve and reinforce export control systems to combat these activities. Ireland has always taken the view that export control systems are a necessary complement to the international treaty and verification systems. The importance of strengthening export controls is highlighted in the recently adopted EU strategy against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.