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UN nuclear agency chief discusses Iran’s programme with US Secretary of State Rice

UN nuclear agency chief discusses Iran’s programme with US Secretary of State Rice

Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei
The head of the United Nations atomic watchdog agency is in Washington for talks with senior United States officials on a raft of issues ranging from Iran’s controversial nuclear programme to the recent US-Indian cooperation deal to new ways of containing sensitive nuclear technology.

“I believe that it’s very important for Iran to take whatever measures required for the international community to have confidence that its programme is peaceful in nature,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei told reporters after a meeting yesterday with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

“I believe also it’s very important that Iran goes back to the negotiating table with the Europeans,” he added, referring to European Union (EU) efforts to reach a diplomatic package solution to the issue. “My preferred solution, obviously, to the Iranian issue, is a negotiated solution.”

Earlier this year, the IAEA referred the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme to the Security Council, which can impose sanctions, after Mr. ElBaradei repeatedly reported that although the Agency had not seen any diversion of material to nuclear weapons or other explosive devices, it was still not able to conclude that there were no undeclared nuclear materials or activities.

Iran says its activities are solely for energy purposes but the United States and other countries insist it is clandestinely seeking to produce nuclear weapons. Last August, Iran rescinded its voluntary suspension of nuclear fuel conversion, which can produce the enriched uranium necessary either for nuclear power generation or for nuclear weapons.

Mr. ElBaradei called the India-US pact on nuclear cooperation “a win-win agreement,” voicing the hope that the US Congress will approve it and that the deal can ensure that India becomes a partner in the non-proliferation framework.

Earlier this year, Mr. ElBaradei said the agreement reached was a milestone that could consolidate efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear arms and combat nuclear terrorism, by satisfying India’s growing need for energy while bringing it closer as an important partner in the non-proliferation regime.

On sensitive nuclear technology, Ms. Rice thanked Mr. ElBaradei for work on “some innovative non-proliferation ideas like fuel assurances that would allow the proliferation risks associated with civil nuclear programs to be minimized.” Mr. ElBaradei said that the IAEA was “trying to look at the big picture in making sure that we have innovative measures to ensure that sensitive proliferation technology, like enrichment or reprocessing is contained.”