The International Atomic Energy Agency voted on Friday to form a nuclear fuel bank to help developing countries acquire nuclear fuel without having to enrich uranium themselves.
“We are against any move which would lead to nuclear Apartheid,” Soltanieh told the participants at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting in Vienna late on Saturday.
He added, “At this stage, we are faced with a very complicated issue which has technical, legal, trade, economic, political, and strategic impacts on the member states.”
Over the past three decades, the issue of a nuclear fuel bank has been studied repeatedly, however, no tangible result has been achieved yet, Soltanieh noted.
Most of the IAEA members are still suspicious about all the dimensions and impacts of the issue, he explained.
Soltanieh also said that it seems that except the nuclear weapons states and those which are not signatories to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), others should accept the “denial of their unalienable rights”.
The main concern of the developing countries is that, through the establishment of a nuclear bank, the developed states would create a nuclear apartheid and deprive other states from their rights to produce nuclear fuel, the diplomat observed.
The envoy added that the Islamic Republic of Iran opposes any restriction in mastering technology to produce nuclear fuel or any attempt aimed at undermining the peaceful nuclear activities of the NPT signatories.
The Islamic Republic believes that the issue of nuclear fuel must be studied within a comprehensive framework by taking the viewpoints of all member states into account, he said.
Soltania went on to say that any decision-making related to the issue of nuclear fuel, particularly the establishment of a nuclear fuel bank, must be reviewed in the IAEA General Conference.
The proposal on the establishment of a nuclear fuel bank is not a solution to the existing problems rather itself is a new problem which will create political tensions among the member states, he predicted.
According to the plan passed at the IAEA board meeting, the agency will be the owner of the Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) in the bank, which will be located in one or more member states that is prepared to act as a host state.
The plan says LEU from the IAEA LEU bank will be supplied to member states that experience a nuclear fuel supply disruption due to exceptional circumstances, and is unable to secure supply from the commercial market.
A statement from the EU representative to IAEA said the EU Council of Ministers had decided to support the establishment of an IAEA (LEU) Bank, and declared its readiness to make a substantial financial contribution to support the proposal.
However, the plan has met opposition from some developing countries. They worry that a nuclear fuel bank could undermine their right to acquire their own nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Some countries are also concerned with the possibility of fuel supply being controlled by Western powers and used for political purposes.