VIENNA (AFP) – UN atomic watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei said on Thursday he was “disappointed” by Iran’s lack of response to a compromise nuclear fuel deal.
“I am disappointed that Iran has not so far agreed to the original proposal or the alternative modalities, both of which I believe are balanced and fair and would greatly help to alleviate the concerns relating to Iran’s nuclear programme,” he told the International Atomic Energy Agency’s governing board.
It was ElBaradei, who steps down as the IAEA’s director general next Monday after 12 years in office, who brokered the deal, which would see Russia enrich the uranium needed to fuel a nuclear research reactor in Tehran in return for key confidence-building gestures by the Islamic Republic.
Under the terms of the deal, Iran was offered to ship out most of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium for further processing by Russia.
But Iran is reluctant to let go of its uranium, and has proposed a simultaneous exchange of fuel inside Iran instead.
“The proposed agreement is meant to ensure the continued operation of the Tehran Research Reactor and maintain its ability to produce medical isotopes so that cancer patients receive the treatment they need. Equally importantly, it would also help to bring a shift away from confrontation towards cooperation and open the way for a broad dialogue between Iran and the international community,” ElBaradei said.
“In my view, the proposed agreement represents a unique opportunity to address a humanitarian need and create space for negotiations,” the 67-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner said.
“This opportunity should be seized and it would be highly regrettable if it was missed.”