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ElBaradei calls for US-Iran talks on nuclear issue


Vienna : Chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohamed ElBaradei has called upon the US to open negotiations with Iran to resolve the controversy over the latter’s nuclear programme, official IRNA news agency reported Saturday.

He told The Los Angeles Times that the US president-elect Barack Obama’s various statements gave him “lots of hope” about a negotiated settlement of the issue.

“He is ready to talk to his adversaries, enemies, if you like, including Iran, also North Korea,” he said, adding that the Bush administration was reluctant to do so.

The IAEA chief said such a round of exploratory talks between Washington and Iran should also include issues other than the nuclear controversy.

The US and the West accuse Iran of building nuclear weapons in the guise of a civil nuclear programme and have demanded Tehran stop uranium enrichment activities.

Iran has denied the western charge insisting that its nuclear programme is civilian in nature and said it would continue with its enrichment activities which it called sovereign right.

Enriched uranium is used as fuel for nuclear power plants but is also used at a higher degree of enrichment for making a nuclear bomb.

Both Israel and Bush administration have threatened military options to destroy Iranian nuclear facilities, if negotiations fail.