AFP: UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Monday he was “losing patience” with Iran’s lack of transparency about its controversial nuclear programme. VIENNA, Jan 9 (AFP) – UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Monday he was “losing patience” with Iran’s lack of transparency about its controversial nuclear programme.
Tehran announced Monday it would resume nuclear fuel research, ending a two-year suspension and sparking international concern about the nature of the programme.
Western governments, which have been trying to negotiate with Tehran, fear the Islamic republic could be planning to use uranium enrichment to develop nuclear weapons.
ElBaradei told Sky News television in an interview recorded before Iran’s announcement but to be broadcast at 8:00 pm (2000 GMT) Monday that he still needed clarification about Tehran’s actions.
“There are still a number of important issues where I have not been able to make progress and I still need very much Iran’s transparency and Iran’s active cooperation,” he told the programme, according to a transcript seen by AFP.
“(There are a) number of important issues that have to do with (centrifuges and) the nature of the programme. …
“I cannot continue to say at every board meeting that I still need more time. We have been doing that for three years. …
“I am running out of patience, the international community is running out of patience, the credibility of the verification process is at stake and I’d like come March, which is my next report, to be able to clarify these issues.”
ElBaradei told presenter James Rubin, a former US State Department official, that Iran, Europe, the United States and the international community as a whole needed to “stretch a hand to each other” to resolve the issue.
Washington, which accuses Iran of trying to build nuclear weapons, has said any resumption of research into the fuel cycle might spur it to seek Iran’s referral to the UN Security Council.
Iran has been trying to draw a distinction between such research and actual production of enriched uranium, which can be used as fuel in civil reactors or, in highly enriched form, as the explosive core of an atom bomb.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday that the country had “inalienable rights to peaceful nuclear technology”.
Diplomats in Vienna said the UN agency was still trying to discern Tehran’s intentions.
“The agency is trying to find out what the heck is going on, whether they are going to use nuclear material or not,” said a Western diplomat in Vienna.
An IAEA spokesperson said the agency had nothing new to report, adding: “We are still waiting for clarifications.”
One European diplomat here said France, Germany and Britain, the European Union troika leading negotiations with Tehran, were still planning to meet their Iranian counterparts in Vienna as scheduled on January 18.