International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who for years has opposed military action against Iran, now says negotiations between the West and Tehran over its nuclear program may not happen.
The Iranian government has steadfastly rejected proposals from the U.S. and other major powers to remove 70 percent of its enriched uranium out of the country and have it returned in a condition that cannot be used to fuel nuclear weapons. “You need the (nuclear) material (to be removed) from Iran to defuse the crisis and open the space for negotiations,” ElBaradei told reporters in Vienna on Wednesday. “Keeping the material in Iran will not lead to that.”
In September, Tehran revealed a secret second enrichment facility it has been building for years in violation of the statutes of the IAEA, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency.
The U.S., together with Britain, France, Germany, and even Iranian apologists Russia and China, are expected to issue a joint resolution condemning Iran for concealing the facility, located underground at a site 20 miles north of the Shiite holy city of Qom.
Iran has already enriched enough uranium to fuel as many as two nuclear bombs, and Israel has pledged to prevent the Islamist regime from assembling such weapons of mass destruction.
Visiting the Israeli naval ship that earlier this month seized Iranian weapons meant for the terrorist group Hezbollah in Lebanon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week said, “the threat that Iran poses is very grave for the state of Israel, for peace in the Middle East and the whole world.”
Netanyahu said Israel would be the “first target, but not the last” for Iranian nukes.A smiling Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinehad said during a visit to Brazil this week that the U.S. and Israel “don’t have the courage to attack Iran. They’re not even thinking about it.”
ElBaradei won his 2005 Nobel Peace Prize largely for criticizing the U.S. war in Iraq. In April, he said in a New York Times interview that Israel “would be utterly crazy to attack Iran.”
The IAEA head’s sobering thoughts about the chances for negotiations are at variance with his usual diplomatic optimism regarding Iran.After heading the IAEA since 1997, ElBaradei will be replaced at the end of this month by Japan’s ambassador to the UN agency, Yukiya Amano.
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