ElBaradei Urges Compromise in Iran Nuclear Row
The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog welcomed on Thursday moves to avert possible U.N. sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program and appealed for compromise as Iran's president said he was ready to talk.
Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said he was pleased the U.N. Security Council was holding off from sanctions against Iran as Europeans work on a package of benefits to induce Tehran to cooperate.
"I'm very optimistic. I hope both sides will move away from the war of words, I hope the pitch will go down, I hope people will adopt a cool-headed approach," he told a news conference at Amsterdam airport. "We need compromises from both sides." READ MORE
"I hope that at this stage we will use more carrots before we think of using sticks," he said. "It is a very good idea that the Security Council is holding its horses."
Washington and its European allies have been seeking a U.N. Security Council resolution that would oblige Iran to halt all uranium enrichment work or face possible sanctions.
But Russia and China have resisted the move and Washington agreed this week to let Europeans first devise a package of benefits for Iran in return for cooperating, putting back a decision on a possible resolution for about two weeks.
Tehran says it only wants to produce low-grade enriched uranium to use in atomic power reactors, not the highly enriched uranium needed to make bombs.
During a visit to Indonesia, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran was "ready to engage in dialogue with anybody."
He was responding to a question on a letter he sent to President Bush this week, the first by an Iranian president to his U.S. counterpart since Washington cut ties with Iran in 1980 following Iran's 1979 revolution.
Washington has dismissed the letter as a diversionary tactic that did not address the problem of Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
In the interview broadcast on Indonesia's Metro television, Ahmadinejad said of Iran's nuclear program: "It has nothing to do with nuclear weapons, or military purposes."
ElBaradei, in The Netherlands to receive an award, said the Iran crisis could only be solved by addressing issues like security and trade as well as the question of nuclear energy.
"The only solution to the Iran situation is a comprehensive package through dialogue, through negotiation. The more we can go back to the negotiating table, the more we can address grievances from both sides," he said.
"Iran owes it to the international community to make sure that its program is exclusively for peaceful purposes. They have work to do with (the) IAEA to clarify outstanding issues. They have confidence building measures to take," he said.
Ahmadinejad defended Iran's nuclear policies in a speech at the University of Indonesia and called Israel a creature of Europe that had no place in the Middle East. He has previously said Israel should be eliminated.
After talks with Ahmadinejad on Wednesday, Indonesian President Susilio Bambang Yudhoyono said Jakarta had offered to help mediate in the dispute. Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, is on good terms with Iran and other Middle East countries as well as with the West.
Ahmadinejad is due to fly to Bali on Friday for a meeting of the Developing Eight group that also includes Indonesia, Nigeria, Malaysia, Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
A leading Iranian opposition politician said Tehran should scrap uranium enrichment to avoid dragging itself deeper into a nuclear crisis and should not rely on China or Russia to veto any U.N. action on the Islamic state.
Ebrahim Yazdi, head of the banned Freedom Movement, also said Ahmadinejad was in no position to sermonize in his letter to the U.S. president.
Yazdi told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday that China and Russia, which both have energy interests in Iran, would not jeopardize their economic or other ties with the United States if Iran refused to back down from enriching uranium.
"If Iran insists on its stand, we are afraid that the Russians and the Chinese would give up the resistance to the United States and then there would be a consensus on how to treat Iran," he said.