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IRAN: World powers ponder draft nuclear resolution as ElBaradei pleads with Tehran [Corrected]

November 25, 2009 |  3:22 pm


Late-breaking developments today in the international standoff over Iran's nuclear program:

The Times has obtained a draft United Nations nuclear watchdog agency resolution scolding Iran for its nuclear research program.

[Corrected, Nov. 28: An earlier version described the draft as a United Nations Security Council proposal.]

Also, at a press appearance, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, who ends a 12-year tenure next week, practically with pleaded Iran to accept an international proposal to trade in its potentially dual-use enriched uranium for fuel rods for a Tehran medical reactor.

"There is a golden opportunity for Iran right now ...  to shift gears from confrontation to cooperation," he told reporters in Vienna, headquarters of the atomic energy watchdog.

"That agreement is fair, is balanced; has a lot of built-in guarantees and I continue to call on Iran to seize that opportunity, which is, as I mentioned before, a unique opportunity," he said. "But also ... it is not going to last forever."

Adoption of another legally binding Security Council resolution may be the next step in international efforts to pressure Iran to curtail its nuclear research program, which the West suspects is aimed at building a weapons capability. 

Iran insists its nuclear program is meant solely for civilian purposes. 

Written by German diplomats and circulated among diplomats in Vienna, the draft resolution calls for no new sanctions, but demands that Iran quickly come into compliance with previous U.N. Security Council resolutions, resolve lingering questions about its nuclear activities -- including the recently revealed enrichment facility in Qom -- and abide by additional transparency rules backed  by most major nuclear powers. 

ElBaradei dismissed suggestions by Iranian officials that the proposal be amended to give Iran additional guarantees it won't be hoodwinked, such as conducting the trade in the Islamic Republic.

"I don’t think that is an option because the whole purpose of the deal is to defuse the crisis and we have offered a number of built-in guarantees in the agreement," he said. "You need to [take] the material from Iran to defuse the crisis and to open space for negotiations. What we ask Iran is to take minimum, minimum of risk for peace and to have an agreement not based on distrust, but based on trust."

He also urge Iran to respond to the shift in diplomatic tone under the Obama administration.

"I would like to see Iran engaged," he said. "There is a hand extended to Iran by the European Union, by the U.S., and they need to reciprocate and we haven’t yet seen that reciprocation. Iran, unfortunately, right now is blocked because of the domestic differences, and I would like them and I appeal to them, I urge them, to look at their national interest."

Nobel Peace Prize laureate ElBaradei, at probably his last press conference as head of the agency, said the world must continue to strive to peacefully resolve the standoff over Iran's nuclear program after his departure.

"I would like to leave office with Iran and the international community engaged in a dialogue," he said. "No question about it, and this is not a personal issue. This is an issue of security, of peace, and Iran could be a very important gateway to stability in the Middle East."

He added, "I haven’t given up hope. It is not about myself. Even after I leave, I still believe we have to be as creative as possible to try to find the modalities to engage Iran with the rest of the international community in a dialogue."

-- Borzou Daragahi in Beirut and Julia Damianova in Vienna

Photo: International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohammed El Baradei speaks at a press conference in Vienna today. Credit: Samuel Kubani / AFP/Getty Images