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Sat 5 May 2007 02:08 PM

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IAEA to assist nuclear development in GCC

Atomic energy agency confirms GCC's right to a civilian nuclear programme but denies Iranian threat.

A senior delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is heading to Saudi Arabia this month to discuss the potential for developing a nuclear power generation programme in the GCC.

The mission, headed by Dr. Manase Peter Salema, will discuss the general outline of a joint study to establish a nuclear programme with member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Salema told Kuwait News Agency.

The four day visit will focus on GCC governments working hand-in-hand with the IAEA on a civil and peaceful nuclear programme.

Dr. Salema confirmed every country's right to use nuclear energy in peaceful means on condition that it is monitored by the agency.

All member states must sign and approve the additional protocol of complementary inspection authority to that provided in underlying safeguards agreements, he added.

GCC states have been discussing the creation of a nuclear strategy ever since Iran began its own development programme.

In March, GCC foreign ministers met to discuss the threat posed by Iran's policy, and its own nuclear ambitions. "The nuclear crisis in the region has become an extra burden to challenges that are already facing us," Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told GCC foreign ministers, during the conference.

"This urges us to deal with the new challenge with full responsibility ... and adopt diplomatic solutions in a way that would preserve the right of countries in the region for their own nuclear energy for peaceful purposes," he added.

Dr. Salema would not comment on the Iranian threat beyond saying that the Iranian nuclear programme is a sensitive issue and that IAEA Director General Mohammed El-Baradei was working on a solution through dialogue and cooperation.

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