IRAN TALKS STALEMATED – NEW SANCTIONS APPEAR INEVITABLE

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Mohamed ElBaradei, says talks have reached a stalemate.

BY JULIAN BORGER
Diplomatic Editor
The London Guardian

A new round of international sanctions against Iran looked almost inevitable today, after the head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei said talks with the Islamic republic were at a “stalemate”, and the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared to rule out a compromise.

Speaking to journalists, Ahmadinejad told journalists in Tehran that: “From our point of view, Iran’s nuclear issue is over.”

“We will never negotiate over the obvious rights of the Iranian nation,” Ahmadinejad said, a clear signal that his government was not prepared to suspend the enrichment of uranium, as demanded by the UN security council.

Tehran has been given until the UN general assembly, at the end of this month, to respond to an offer of a compromise over its uranium enrichment. Ahmadinejad made clear he was willing to talk broadly about “global challenges”, but not about enrichment.

The Iranian president said his country would continue to have routine talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). But in a report to the agency’s board, the IAEA director general, ElBaradei, said Iran had failed to answer questions arising from evidence suggesting it had at least contemplated the design of a warhead.

In his speech to the board, ElBaradei noted that Tehran had made two recent concessions: allowing his inspectors access to a heavy water nuclear reactor at Arak, and agreeing to improve monitoring at the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz.

But he added: “On all other issues relevant to Iran’s nuclear programme, however, there is stalemate. Iran has not suspended its enrichment-related activities or its work on heavy water-related projects as required by the security council.”

“Likewise, Iran has not cooperated with the agency in connection with the remaining issues, detailed fully and completely in the agency’s reports, which need to be clarified in order to exclude the possibility of there being military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme,” ElBaradei said.

The outgoing director general, who will leave his post at the end of November, also criticised “some member states”, which he accused of leaking against him after a string of media reports alleging he had suppressed a “secret annex” to his inspectors’ report on Iran containing evidence of Tehran’s alleged nuclear weapons programme.

He said: “These allegations are politically motivated and totally baseless. Such attempts to influence the work of the secretariat and undermine its independence and objectivity are in violation of Article VII.F. of the IAEA statute and should cease forthwith.”

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