International atomic energy chief praises cooperation with Iran (AFP-FRANCE PRESSE) DAVOS, Switzerland 01/29/05 8:07 AM ET)
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DAVOS, Switzerland (AFP) - International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
chief Mohamed ElBaradei said that he was receiving "good cooperation"
from Iran on the country´s controversial nuclear programme.
"I am saying that we are getting good cooperation from Iran," the
head of the UN´s nuclear watchdog told journalists at the World
IAEA nuclear inspectors said on January 18, after completing a first
inspection, that they wanted to return to a military site in Iran
where Washington charges that Tehran is illicitly simulating nuclear
"In the last 15 months we have made good strides in understanding the
nature and the scope of its programme," El Baradei said.
The IAEA had no evidence that Iran was developing nuclear weapons
through its atomic energy programme, he indicated.
"We cannot work on the basis of beliefs, we have to work on the
facts," the UN nuclear chief said, while acknowledging that IAEA was
relying largely on its own equipment, inspections, and information
But inspectors were receiving no information or evidence from outside
sources, he cautioned.
"If people have information and on this basis are coming to the
conclusion that this is a weapons programmme, then I would very much
like them to share it."
"Right now we are not getting much, so we are relying on our own
abilities," he added.
Washington suspects Iran is trying to make nuclear weapons and US
President George W. Bush has said he could not rule out military
action if Tehran could not be persuaded to abandon its nuclear energy
"As long as we have cooperation, and we do not see a smoking gun, the
international community should bear with us," El Baradei insisted.
Iran suspended uranium enrichment, the key process that makes fuel
for nuclear reactors but also the explosive core of atomic bombs,
under a deal clinched in November by three EU states --Britain,
France and Germany.
Talks between the trio and Tehran on a more comprehensive plan that
would include economic ties are continuing, amid reports that the
European Union had hardened its stance by urging Tehran to completely
dismantle its nuclear fuel programme.
In Tehran Saturday, Iran´s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
warned European powers to take their nuclear negotiations with Iran
seriously, otherwise Tehran will reconsider its cooperation.
"The Europeans negotiating with Iran should know that they are
dealing with a great, cultured nation... if Iranian officials feel
that there is no seriousness in the European negotiations, the
process will change," Khamenei was quoted as saying by the Iranian
ElBaradei meanwhile said he hoped that the dialogue would be
succesful and urged the United States to join face to face talks with
"It is vital that the United States will become part of that
"This issue will not be resolved without face-to-face negotiations,"
ElBaradei added, drawing a parallel with US involvement in talks with
North Korea on its nuclear ambitions.
The UN´s nuclear chief warned of deeper systemic problems with the
international regime aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear
"We are clearly going through a difficult time with the non-
proliferation regime. We clearly have a problem on our hand," he
The international community´s sparring with North Korea and Iran over
nuclear issues, the discovery of private nuclear trafficking, and
attempts by extremist groups to seek nuclear material all indicated
that the system should be overhauled and the IAEA´s powers
stregthened, ELBaradei said.
The review of the international nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty
(NPT), which is due to be engaged this year, should include a
moratorium on the development of new capacity for uranium enrichment
Technological developments and the weakness of the regime meant that
a determined country could build a nuclear weapon "in a matter of
months or a year", he warned, leaving the IAEA little time to react.
(Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse. 01/29/05)
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