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. Former UN chief nuclear inspector says world powers should talk to Iran
VIENNA, May 9 (AFP) May 09, 2007
World powers should agree to nuclear talks with Iran without imposing preconditions about Tehran's atomic work, former chief UN nuclear inspector Hans Blix said Wednesday in an interview with AFP.

"You have carrots and sticks. In most cases, carrots are more effective than sticks," said Blix, a former head of the UN watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) who was named head of a UN team in 2002 tasked with conducting inspections for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The United States and Britain led an invasion of Iraq in March 2003, using weapons' fears to justify the operation. Blix later accused the US and British governments of exaggerating Iraq's weapons' threat to help build a case for war.

Weapons of mass destruction were never found in Iraq.

Blix is now chairman of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission (WMDC), an independent body which works to limit the dangers posed by WMD.

He said he was "critical" of demands by the US and other world powers that Iran must first suspend uranium enrichment, which makes fuel for civilian nuclear reactors but also the raw material for atom bombs, before talks on defusing the crisis can begin.

The US charges that Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons, but Iran says its atomic programme is a peaceful effort to generate electricty.

"I'm critical about making it the precondition for any talks, that Iran should suspend its enrichment programme because it is the enrichment programme that is the core of the negotiations," Blix said.

He said the United States, Europe and other nations seeking to talk with Iran should instead propose giving Tehran security guarantees, that Iran would be free from attack, and a promise to formal US diplomatic recognition of the Islamic Republic, if Iran were to halt suspect nuclear fuel work.

Such incentives could be convincing since they go to the heart of basic Iranian concerns, "what makes them tick," Blix said.

He dismissed the idea of a US military attack on Iran saying the "US public is a bit tired of military adventures."

Blix was speaking on the sidelines of a conference in Vienna to consider how to reinforce the 189-nation Non-Proliferation Treaty, the world's basic agreement on fighting the spread of nuclear weapons.

He said the NPT "has been in many respects a success" but was threatened by nuclear-weapons states not keeping their promises to move towards disarmament.

"The main problem relates to the actions of disarmament," Blix said.

The NPT, which went into effect in 1970, is a pact between non-nuclear-weapons states promising not to seek the bomb and nuclear weapons states pledging to begin talks on disarmament.

Blix also warned here that the NPT was threatened by a failure to make sure that outer "space should be for peaceful purposes."

The world's "outer space treaty is 40 years of age" and "should be reviewed," Blix said.

He said it "seems perverse that there is an army of engineers working to improve our mobile phones and another army of engineers working hard to find a way to shoot down objects in space."

"We are in jeopardy," Blix said.

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