Iran Nuclear NewsElBaradei vows to pursue Iran over nuclear program

ElBaradei vows to pursue Iran over nuclear program

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Reuters: Mohamed ElBaradei vowed on Monday to pursue his questioning of Iran over its atomic program after the governing board of the U.N. nuclear watchdog unanimously approved his third term as agency chief. “The Iran file will be closed when we close all the issues that are still open,” ElBaradei told reporters. “We are inching forward but I’d like to have more speedy cooperation on the part of Iran,” he said after the 35-nation governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) approve his third four-year term.
Reuters

By Louis Charbonneau and Francois Murphy

VIENNA – Mohamed ElBaradei vowed on Monday to pursue his questioning of Iran over its atomic program after the governing board of the U.N. nuclear watchdog unanimously approved his third term as agency chief.

“The Iran file will be closed when we close all the issues that are still open,” ElBaradei told reporters.

“We are inching forward but I’d like to have more speedy cooperation on the part of Iran,” he said after the 35-nation governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) approve his third four-year term.

Washington has accused Iran of using its nuclear program as a front to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has demanded that its file be closed and insists that the program is peaceful.

While ElBaradei has found no hard proof that Washington is right about Tehran’s nuclear plans, he says it is too early to say whether the program is exclusively peaceful.

ElBaradei praised Iran for granting access to nuclear materials inside the country and for suspending its uranium enrichment program, which could be used to make purified uranium fuel for atomic power plants or weapons.

However, he said Iran needed to provide more information about its enrichment centrifuge program.

“On the extent and nature of (Iran’s) centrifuge program, we still need more information,” ElBaradei said — a criticism he has made repeatedly during the IAEA’s two-year investigation of Iran’s formerly secret nuclear program.

Centrifuges are machines that purify uranium by spinning at supersonic speeds. Tehran had concealed its enrichment program from the IAEA for nearly two decades before information about it was revealed by a group of Iranian exiles in August 2002.

ElBaradei’s criticism of Iran’s lack of full cooperation with the United Nations will be welcomed by Washington, which fought for over a year to oust to the Egyptian lawyer and veteran diplomat as head of the IAEA before admitting defeat and backing him.

“The U.S. has taken the most graceful way out of this situation,” a Western diplomat said before the IAEA board meeting. “It has decided to back ElBaradei in exchange for what it hopes will be a tougher stance on Iran.”

TOO SOFT ON IRAN AND IRAQ?

Washington had said it opposed the reappointment of the 62-year-old, who has run the IAEA since 1997, because it believes U.N. agency heads should serve only for two terms. But U.N. diplomats said the reason was that the United States believed he was soft on Iraq and Iran.

Some diplomats who follow the United Nations in Vienna said ElBaradei had cut a deal to get the U.S. backing during a sudden visit he made to Washington last week — a deal that included a promise to harden his public statements on Iran.

But ElBaradei denied the issue had come up when he met Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week.

“We did not discuss the past. We did not discuss my election,” ElBaradei said.

The outspoken diplomat made it clear he would never allow himself to become any country’s puppet and would continue to speak his mind on all issues regarding nuclear weapons.

“I will continue to hold high the principles and values of an international civil servant which are impartiality and independence,” ElBaradei said.

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