IAEA's ElBaradei says Iran sanctions "bad idea"

Reuters, Thu
Mar 30, 2006 2:10 PM ET

DOHA (Reuters) - U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei said on Thursday Iran posed no imminent threat and imposing sanctions on Tehran would be a "bad idea".

Iran says it wants only civilian nuclear power and rejected a U.N. Security Council statement adopted on Wednesday calling for a freeze on uranium enrichment and a report from the U.N. nuclear agency on Iranian compliance in 30 days.

"Sanctions are a bad idea. We are not facing an imminent threat. We need to lower the pitch," ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told a forum in the Qatari capital, Doha.

"My message to Iran: the international community is getting impatient and you need to respond by arming me with information," he said.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said earlier that sanctions could follow if Iran refused to halt its enrichment programme as demanded by the U.N Security Council on Wednesday.

ElBaradei said: "There is no military solution to this situation. It's inconceivable. The only durable solution is a negotiated solution."

"I work on facts, we fortunately were proven right in Iraq, we were the only ones that said at the time that Iraq did not have nuclear weapons and I hope this time people will listen to us," he added.

Iran restarted its nuclear enrichment programme earlier this year but insists its aim is to develop energy, not weapons.

"Nobody has the right to punish Iran for enrichment," ElBaradei said. "We have not seen nuclear material diverted to a nuclear weapon but we are not saying that the programme is used exclusively for peaceful purposes because we still have work to do."

The world's big powers told Iran on Thursday it must heed the U.N. order to curb its nuclear programme or face isolation, but Tehran has refused to budge.

In Berlin, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the international community still aimed to find a diplomatic solution to the stand-off.

Russia and China firmly oppose any sanctions, let alone force, and insisted on removing language in the U.N. statement that they feared could lead down that path.


Origin:  http://go.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=11701885


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