UN nuclear chief urges Iran to engage

Mohamed El-Baradei, outgoing chief of the United Nations nuclear agency, urged Iran on Monday to be more forthcoming in response to proposals to end the standoff over its nuclear programme.

Presenting his final report to the UN General Assembly after 12 years as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mr Baradei also told other states that force should not be used to resolve the dispute unless every other option had been exhausted.

Mr Baradei’s comments were an indication that the IAEA was still unsatisfied with Iran’s response last week to a set of proposals, supported by western powers and Russia, that are aimed at establishing a full dialogue with Tehran.

The proposals would include Iran’s use of low-enriched uranium for manufacturing fuel for the continued operation of a research centre devoted mainly to producing radioisotopes for medical purposes.

Iran is subject to UN sanctions because of its failure to reveal the full extent of a nuclear programme that the US and others fear is aimed at producing nuclear weapons.

“A number of questions and allegations relevant to the nature of that programme are still outstanding and need to be clarified by Iran through transparency and co-operation with the agency,” Mr Baradei told the UN on Monday.

Mohammad Khazaee, Iranian envoy to the UN, insisted Iran’s programme was for purely peaceful purposes, but did not refer directly to his government’s response to the IAEA proposals.

Reaffirming the inalienable right of Iran and other non-nuclear states to obtain nuclear technology, he said: “Nuclear renaissance is on the horizon.”

He said the UN agency was not just a “watchdog” to be used by certain states for their own purposes but should also fulfill its role to facilitate the exchange of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

Mr Baradei, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize during a term that was dominated in its second half by concerns about the nuclear programmes of Iran and North Korea, said the experience of Iraq had shown him that diplomacy and verification should take their course “however lengthy and tiresome that process might be”.

“Force should never be used unless every other option has been exhausted, and then only within the bounds of international law,” he said.

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