Iran Nuclear NewsUN nuclear watchdog chief says Iran must be more...

UN nuclear watchdog chief says Iran must be more transparent

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AFP: UN atomic watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei on Monday called on Iran to be more transparent about its actions to ease international fears that it is aiming to obtain a nuclear weapon. by Veronica Smith

WASHINGTON, Nov 7 (AFP) – UN atomic watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei on Monday called on Iran to be more transparent about its actions to ease international fears that it is aiming to obtain a nuclear weapon.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency spoke as European negotiators studied a new Iranian offer to resume talks over its disputed nuclear programme, while the Islamic Republic also moved toward more work on uranium enriched fuel.

In remarks prepared for an international conference here for the 60th anniversary of the first official nonproliferation proposal, ElBaradei said Tehran must come clean on its nuclear intentions.

“Over the past two and half years, we have compiled a detailed picture of most aspects of Iran’s past and current nuclear program,” ElBaradei said, according to the transcript.

“But given that the program was concealed for nearly 20 years, and that a number of open questions remain, the responsibility rests with Iran to provide, if needed, additional transparency measures,” ElBaradei said.

ElBaradei added however that he was heartened by some recent moves toward greater openness. “We are making progress,” he said. “We are getting access.”

But he insisted: “The ball is in their court.”

The UN’s nuclear watchdog chief, winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, is to meet US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Tuesday.

The United States — which views Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism — has long accused the Islamic state of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, although it has backed European efforts to engage Tehran.

Iran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful and that it has the right to civilian nuclear energy.

ElBaradei said that improved transparency from Tehran would “enable the (UN) agency to resolve these questions, and to provide the required assurance about the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.”

Iran on Sunday asked Britain, France and Germany to reopen stalled nuclear talks, which broke off in August when Tehran resumed uranium conversion in defiance of international calls to maintain a suspension.

The European Union said Monday it was studying Iran’s new offer to resume talks on Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, one of three foreign ministers who have led the European Union initiative to engage Iran by offering benefits in return for a nuclear freeze, said Britain, France and Germany will reply shortly to Tehran’s offer.

Speaking in Brussels before a meeting of EU foreign ministers, Straw confirmed that “informal discussions” are continuing with the Iranians.

The IAEA board is to meet on November 24 and could theoretically refer Iran to the UN Security Council for sanctions.

Britain, France and Germany have attempted to persuade Iran to permanently suspend uranium enrichment as a watertight guarantee that its nuclear programme is peaceful.

But Iran insists its right to enrichment is enshrined in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its additional protocol.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Monday reaffirmed his country’s claim that its programme is peaceful and legal.

“We insist on Iran’s undeniable right in the (NPT) and international law, which is our right to peaceful nuclear technology,” said the minister.

Iran refuses to go back on conversion and says it is only ready to negotiate as long as its right to enrichment is recognized.

ElBaradei’s keynote speech opened the Carnegie International Non-Proliferation Conference Monday.

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