Iran Nuclear NewsUN atomic chief calls for pause in Iran sanctions

UN atomic chief calls for pause in Iran sanctions

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Bloomberg: United Nations atomic agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei called on the Security Council to take a “timeout” from sanctions and for Iran to pause its uranium enrichment to avert a crisis over the country’s nuclear program. By Jonathan Tirone

Sept. 10 (Bloomberg) — United Nations atomic agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei called on the Security Council to take a “timeout” from sanctions and for Iran to pause its uranium enrichment to avert a crisis over the country’s nuclear program.

“A double timeout of all enrichment-related activities and of sanctions could provide a breathing space for negotiations to be resumed,” ElBaradei told the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-member board of governors in Vienna. “The earlier we move from confrontation and distrust to dialogue and confidence- building, the better for Iran and the international community.”

ElBaradei’s suggestion today is likely to put him at odds with both U.S. and Iranian diplomats. The State Department is trying to rally support for a third round of sanctions against Iran at the Security Council in New York. The government in Tehran has repeatedly rejected a pause in its nuclear work as a precondition for negotiations with the West.

“The issue of Iran’s suspension of uranium enrichment is an old and unacceptable one,” the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency today quoted Iran Supreme Security Council Secretary Ali Larijani as saying yesterday in an interview on state television.

“Those sanctions are having an effect,” State Department spokesman Tom Casey told an Aug. 7 media briefing in Washington, according to a transcript. Casey said the penalties are hampering investment in Iran, holder of the world’s second biggest oil and natural gas reserves.

U.S. Criticism

ElBaradei and Larijani agreed last month to an accord that gives UN inspectors greater access to Iran’s atomic facilities. The deal may by the end of this year lift suspicion that Iran’s past nuclear work was a cover for developing weapons, ElBaradei said in an interview last week.

U.S. diplomats have been critical of the agreement.

“Cooperation that is partial, conditional and only promised in the future is not enough,” Gregory Schulte, the U.S. ambassador to the IAEA, said today at a media briefing in Vienna. “Cooperation that gives Iran wherewithal to build nuclear weapons is not enough.”

Germany’s IAEA Ambassador, Peter Gottwald, said the Security Council resolutions ordering Iran to suspend its nuclear work should continue to be the basis for negotiation with the Islamic Republic. Gottwald said there should be guarantees that Iran’s present and future atomic work won’t lead to weapons.

“We need to see and we hope that the implementation happens as fast as possible and that will give us a much better way of judging its quality,” the diplomat said at the board meeting, referring to the Iran-IAEA accord.

In his speech to the board, ElBaradei urged Iran to go beyond the text of its agreement with his agency, and said it’s “indispensable” that the country implement a law allowing inspectors to search manufacturing and military sites associated with its nuclear work.

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