Reuters: U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Mohammed ElBaradei called for a negotiated end to the Iranian and North Korean nuclear disputes, Algeria’s stated-owned El Moudjahid newspaper reported on Wednesday.
ALGIERS (Reuters) – U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Mohammed ElBaradei called for a negotiated end to the Iranian and North Korean nuclear disputes, Algeria’s stated-owned El Moudjahid newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Asked about Iran and North Korea, ElBaradei, who is on a visit to Algeria, replied: “In my opinion these questions can only be solved through direct negotiations between the parties concerned.”
The director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also spoke of “creating a climate for bringing the concerned parties to the same table of negotiations in Iran or in North Korea”, El Moudjahid said.
ElBaradei was speaking to Algerian reporters after meeting President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Tuesday on the sidelines of a conference on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy in Africa.
Iran is pursuing a nuclear fuel program with the stated goal of producing electricity. The West sees it as a cover for building atom bombs since it has impeded IAEA inquiries.
In the light of this, and Tehran’s calls for Israel’s destruction, the U.N. Security Council imposed some sanctions on Iran last month for failing to heed a U.N. demand to suspend its efforts to enrich uranium for atomic fuel.
Diplomats regard Iran’s nuclear ambitions as a serious bomb proliferation risk. Gulf Arab countries, which are uneasy neighbors of Iran, say they will pursue nuclear power, too.
Diplomats close to the IAEA say ElBaradei fears sanctions were imposed before chances for a negotiated deal were exhausted and could eventually drive Iran to bar U.N. inspectors and leave the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Iran says it has a right assured by its membership of the NPT to enrich uranium for civilian nuclear power. It denies any intent to divert enrichment work into bomb making.
North Korea incurred world condemnation for conducting a nuclear test explosion on October 9 but has since agreed to return to six-party disarmament talks it had boycotted for a year.
In a speech to the Algiers conference on Tuesday, ElBaradei called for a world free of nuclear weapons, saying those held by nine countries could “end life as we know it”.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate added that the IAEA enjoyed only uneven authority as it sought to curb the proliferation of nuclear arms among countries that have pledged to respect its watchdog role.
“It is becoming more and more clear that a continuation of the status quo will render the nuclear non-proliferation regime dysfunctional,” he said in the speech.
ElBaradei did not identify the nine countries. Known nuclear states are the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, India, Pakistan and North Korea. Israel, widely believed to have atomic weapons, does not comment on the topic.
He said too few countries had brought into force the Additional Protocol to the NPT that allows for intrusive, short-notice IAEA inspections of nuclear sites.
Iran minimized its cooperation with IAEA inspectors after ceasing to implement the Additional Protocol.