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Need time to build confidence on Iran nuke issue: ElBaradei

ElBaradei urged the continuation of talks, saying neither the nuclear crisis nor other issues can be resolved through escalation.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2006 14:55 IST

UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei has asked for time to build confidence in the international community over Iran's nuclear issue.

"I would call upon the United States to provide Iran with reactors, and I would call upon Iran to declare a moratorium on (nuclear) enrichment for at least eight or nine years," the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief told a World Economic Forum (WEF) panel at Davos on Friday.

He said it would enable Iran to earn the confidence of the rest of the world that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only.

ElBaradei urged the continuation of talks, saying neither the nuclear crisis nor other pressing issues regarding Iran can be resolved through escalation.

The European Union trio -- France, Britain and Germany -- scrapped talks with Iran when the country removed seals of the IAEA and resumed research on nuclear material.

The three countries, together with the US, called for a special meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors Feb 2 to discuss possible referral of the Iranian nuclear issue to the UN Security Council, which has the right to impose sanctions on Iran.

"You need to keep all options on the table, but you are paid to make policy decisions. I would hold my horses to allow for the continuation of talks," he suggested to Western officials.

The Iranians argue that they need to develop an enrichment capability because they cannot be assured a guaranteed supply of fuel for a peaceful nuclear energy programme, said ElBaradei.

"I would separate the issues of using nuclear technology for energy and to produce weapons." he said.

On Thursday ElBaradei said a Russian proposal that nuclear enrichment is done in Russia instead might be able to break the deadlock.

Iran's top nuclear official, Ali Larijani, said Friday that the Russian proposal is not acceptable in its present form but there is room for discussion over it.

Alyson Bailes, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden, called for technological innovation so that nuclear energy production and the production of nuclear weapons use "a completely different base for the fuel cycle" such as the use of thorium fusion.

"The root of this evil is that nuclear fuel cycles were created for weapons production," she told the same session.

ElBaradei blessed the quest for new technologies, but immediately called for international control over all nuclear activities and the creation of a nuclear fuel bank to ensure supplies of uranium to all countries.

"We need to worry because there's a lot of material that easily go into nuclear weapons that is all over the place. We know that the technology on how to weaponise is out of the tube. We know that terrorists are highly sophisticated and are interested in acquiring nuclear weapons or nuclear material," he said.

First Published: Jan 28, 2006 14:55 IST