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Last Updated: Friday, 17 September, 2004, 16:35 GMT 17:35 UK
UN urges cautious Iran approach
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei
The IAEA chief says lessons should be learnt from Iraq
The head of the UN's nuclear watchdog has called for restraint and caution in dealing with Iran's nuclear programme.

Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told the BBC that diplomacy should be given a chance to take effect.

He cautioned against jumping to conclusions about Iran's nuclear intentions, citing the lessons of Iraq.

His comments came as the US, France, Britain and Germany called for Iran to end its uranium enrichment programme.

Art of diplomacy

"You need the carrot and the stick - the incentive and disincentive - and how you mix these elements in a way that does not chase one of the parties away, or make them feel complacent, is really the art of diplomacy," Mr ElBaradei said.

Iran dismisses allegations that it is enriching uranium to develop nuclear weapons, insisting its nuclear programme is solely for peaceful purposes.

Mr ElBaradei cautioned against creating further barriers between the country and the international community.

"My desire is to see the Iranian situation resolved, not to see Iran having nuclear weapons, not to see Iran isolated and become more hawkish," he said.

"Whatever needs to be done to do that, I am all for it."

Possible sanctions

The US - which believes Tehran is using enriched uranium to build nuclear weapons - has been lobbying IAEA members to take Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

A draft UN resolution agreed by the US and France, Britain and Germany calls on Iran to suspend its uranium programme as a confidence-building measure.

The text says the UN nuclear agency should decide in November whether to take further action against Iran.

But Mr ElBaradei says it is still unclear if the country is developing nuclear weapons.

Satellite images

Later he dismissed claims by US officials that the site of a military testing ground near the Iranian capital was linked to nuclear research.

"We do not have any indication that this site has nuclear-related activities," he told reporters on the sidelines of an IAEA meeting in Vienna.

Earlier this week a US nuclear monitor published satellite images of the Parchin military complex, south-east of Tehran, saying it may be used for work on nuclear arms.

The new draft resolution still has to be approved by the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors.

The head of the Iranian delegation to the IAEA, Hossein Mousavian, told the BBC that Iran would decide in the next few days whether to extend its partial freeze on uranium enrichment.

He said the draft resolution was a politically motivated text and enriching uranium for civilian purposes was the legitimate right of every IAEA member.

The BBC's Brian Hanrahan
"For a week the IAEA has been deadlocked over Iran's nuclear programme"

Dr Ali Ansari of St Andrew's University
"The real impetus for the development of a nuclear programme was when South Asia went nuclear"

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