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. Deadlocked Iran-EU talks not in crisis, need more US guarantees: ElBaradei
PARIS (AFP) Mar 21, 2005
The United States will have to give Iran regional security assurances if deadlocked EU-led talks are to succeed in winning guarantees that Tehran is not developing nuclear weapons, UN atomic agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Monday.

ElBaradei said the United States will have to do more in talks which began in December and resume in Paris Wednesday "because security assurances obviously very much need the Americans."

ElBaradei said that "at an appropriate time the United States will have to be fully engaged" because "regional security (in the Middle East) is very much not only a European affair."

The European Union has since December been trying to get Iran to abandon crucial nuclear fuel cycle activities in order to show it is not making nuclear weapons in return for a package of trade, technology and security rewards.

The security dialogue could involve talks on terrorism, a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East, export controls for weapons of mass destruction, and cooperation on fighting drug trafficking, European diplomats said.

The United States, which charges that Iran has a covert nuclear weapons program and has called for Tehran to be brought before the UN Security Council for possible sanctions, has backed off from its hard line to support the Europeans by offering to help out with trade incentives.

ElBaradei said the EU-Iran talks are not in crisis despite the deadlock over Iran's guaranteeing its atomic intentions are peaceful.

"I don't see any sense of crisis," ElBaradei said. "This is an early stage of negotiations," he said.

Iran flatly rejects the Europeans' demand that it abandon uranium enrichment, which makes fuel for civilian nuclear reactors but can also be used to manufacture the explosive core of atom bombs.

Iran says it has the right to the nuclear fuel cycle according to the terms of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Iran also rejects a US offer to help it get into the World Trade Organization (WTO) and to buy parts for its civilian aircraft.

But analysts and diplomats said the talks, which continue at a senior level in Paris to resume progress so far, are in no danger of breaking down since both sides are still staking out positions in a negotiating process that has months yet to run.

"I think as long as the dialogue is continuing, as long as the (temporary) suspension (of uranium enrichment by Iran) is in place, as long as progress is being made, I think we're on the right track," ElBaradei said.

He said the Americans and Iranians are "trying to restore a relation that has not been there for 20 years."

ElBaradei said it was unreasonable to "expect things that have gone sour for 20 years to be restored in two months, so everybody should be patient."

He said that he felt the "Europeans are really sincere in trying to move forward."

"I also have no reason to believe that Iran is also not sincere in trying to normalize its relations with the rest of the world," ElBaradei said.

Iran has said it can supply "objective guarantees" that its nuclear program is peaceful, even while it continues to enrich uranium.

ElBaradei said "the issue of objective guarantees is obviously one of the difficult issues" but that with "good intentions (the two sides) should be able to come to a solution to enable Iran to maintain its ability to use nuclear energy as they are entitled to do but also to make sure that the international community is satisfied that things are all exclusively for peaceful purposes."

He said Iran should work with the IAEA to clear up lingering issues, such as highly enriched uranium contamination IAEA inspectors found in Iran and whether Iran is developing sophisticated centrifuges for enrichment.

The IAEA is not involved in the EU-Iran talks but ElBaradei said he was open to giving advice although "I don't volunteer any role unless all the parties ask us to do some technical adice."

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