IranSaudi Arabia

Iran censures IAEA’s silence on covert Saudi nuclear activities

Iran’s permanent ambassador to the United Nations office in Geneva has censured the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for keeping silent on the covert nuclear activities of Saudi Arabia and Israel’s nuclear weapons, warning that such dual attitude would question the agency’s claim of impartiality and professional credit.

“There is every reason to be concerned about the danger of nuclear weapons in West Asia. While the Israeli regime, the only possessor of nuclear weapons in our region, persists in its blatant defiance of international law by refusing to become committed to relevant international legal regimes and by further enriching its nuclear arsenal, Saudi Arabia’s nuclear program is adding another complexity to the already volatile region,” Esmaeil Baghaei Hamaneh said in an address to the UN Conference on Disarmament on Friday.

He pointed to the Thursday speech to the conference by the Saudi ambassador to the UN, saying it would be better if he addresses this concern of the international community’s instead of bothering to fabricate a thick smokescreen by blaming others for all the wrong-doings, mistakes and atrocities that Riyadh has knowingly been committing with the support and approval of the United States across the region.

Baghaei Hamaneh emphasized that Iran fully recognizes the right of Saudi Arabia, as a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

“However, despite the fact that Saudi Arabia is a party to the NPT and has a Comprehensive Safeguard Agreement with the IAEA, it has questionably failed to abide by its commitments,” the Iranian diplomat said.

He noted that Saudi Arabia’s lack of transparency and cooperation with the IAEA’s inspectors has caused real concerns about the country’s objective and dimensions of its nuclear program.

“We call upon Saudi authorities to honor their obligations under the NPT and the Safeguards Agreement and extend cooperation with the IAEA inspection regime.”

Baghaei Hamaneh also pointed to the responsibility of the IAEA and its Board of Governors to carry out their inspection/verification mandate and submit a report on the status of Saudi Arabia’s nuclear activities and prevent any misuse of old safeguard loopholes and stressed the importance of clarifying the reasons that the agency has preferred to be silent in this regard.

“This, especially in the light of the unjustified haste and prejudices about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program, which is under the IAEA’s most robust verification/inspection regime, could raise questions over the Agency’s impartiality and unbiasedness.”

“The IAEA is best advised to shield its credibility, impartiality, independence and professionalism against any suspicion to the contrary,” he added.

He also called on Saudi authorities to act like a responsible actor in the region, end the ruthless destruction of Yemen, stop violent extremism and terrorism that has ravaged some Arab countries and let regional states to reinforce collective trust based on deep-rooted bonds of solidarity and good neighborliness to live in peace and harmony.

Countries which possess nuclear weapons should demonstrate their political will to achieve disarmament, he said, adding that transparent, irreversible and total elimination of all nuclear weapons would be the only way to remove the threat of nukes.

“Under the NPT’s Article VI…there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control. This is an explicit legal obligation with no ambiguity or conditionality,” Baghaei Hamaneh said.

He warned that lack of political will to make progress in nuclear disarmament could not be compensated by an over-emphasis on non-proliferation.

On August 8, Iran’s permanent representative to Vienna-based international organizations Kazem Gharibabadi called on the IAEA to investigate Saudi Arabia’s “secret” nuclear activities, warning that the international community will not tolerate any “deviation” from a peaceful nuclear program.

He made the remarks after reports emerged about suspected attempts by Riyadh to process uranium and move toward the development of atomic bombs.

In May 217, US President Donald Trump closed an arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth almost $110 billion, and extending up to $350 billion over 10 years.

The pact includes a $6-billion contract to assemble 150 Lockheed Martin Blackhawk helicopters in Saudi Arabia, an official statement about the deal said.

The deal also includes a $1-billion THAAD missile system and contract for four multi-mission warships worth $11.5 billion, according to an unnamed official cited in media.

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