IAEA boss hopeful on nuclear rows

The head of the UN's nuclear watchdog says he is optimistic of resolving international disputes with Iran and North Korea over their nuclear programmes to ensure peaceful use of atomic power.

    "I think things are moving in the right direction," Mohamed ElBaradei, the Egyptian director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told reporters upon arrival in Oslo where
    he and the IAEA will receive the Nobel peace prize on Saturday.

    Announced as Nobel laureates in October, ElBaradei and the Vienna-based IAEA are at the centre of efforts to end Western standoffs with Iran and North Korea over their nuclear

    ElBaradei said he hoped Iran would resume negotiations with France, Britain and Germany on its nuclear programme soon. Talks with the EU broke down in August.

    "I hope Iran will become much more transparent because we would like to bring that issue to closure soon," ElBaradei said.

    "There is a good proposal on the table, including the Russian proposal, which could diffuse the crisis and build confidence."

    Russia has opposed Western calls to refer the crisis to the UN Security Council and instead has offered to enrich Iranian uranium, to ensure it is done for peaceful purposes, in Russia.

    "It is a good proposal, and I hope everyone will take a look at it," said ElBaradei who will receive the $1.3 million peace prize at a ceremony at Oslo's city hall on Saturday with the
    IAEA's Japanese chairman, Yukiya Amano.

    Korean framework

    The IAEA is also seeking to resolve a crisis with North Korea over its nuclear capability.

    "On Korea, things are much better than a year ago," ElBaradei said. "We know the framework of a settlement. We know what everyone needs to do."

    "If we work properly, I think we hopefully will see (North) Korea disarming, giving up its nuclear weapons, but in return getting security assurances, humanitarian assistance and
    economic assistance," ElBaradei said.

    The prize awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Committee is handed out each year on December 10, the anniversary of the death in 1896 of the prize's Swedish founder Alfred Nobel.

    The IAEA and ElBaradei were selected from a record field of 199 candidates.

    ElBaradei said the prize had heightened the IAEA's visibility, authority and credibility.

    "It is helping us a lot to go through the rough weather we are going through ,and I hope it will help us to a safe landing in the next few months," he said.



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