Iran must end 'nuclear standoff'

Head of UN atomic watchdog calls on Tehran for transparency over nuclear programme.

    The IAEA's board of governors are meeting in Vienna, Austria, for week-long talks [AFP]

    Barack Obama, the new US president, has signalled that Washington may be willing to talk to Tehran over the two countries' relations.

    The United Nations has demanded Iran suspend its enrichment programme over fears it could be used to produce nuclear weapons.

    Iran denies the charge, saying its programme is only for generating electricity.

    Despite a six-year investigation, the IAEA has been unable to determine whether or not Iran's uranium enrichment programme is intended for peaceful purposes.

    Military dimensions

    ElBaradei said that Iran was stonewalling on key questions that could give insight into its intentions.

    "The agency regrettably was unable to make any progress on the remaining issues which give rise to concerns about possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear programme because of lack of co-operation by Iran," he said.

    "For the agency to be able to make progress, Iran needs to provide substantive information and access to relevant documentation, locations and individuals in connection with all of the outstanding issues."

    On Monday, Tehran again denied that it harbours nuclear ambitions, after Admiral Mike Mullen, a top US military commander, claimed Iran has enough fissile material to build an atomic bomb.

    "All this talk is baseless," Hassan Ghashghavi, a foreign ministry spokesman, said.

    "For that to be true, two things would have to happen... first, Iran has to exit the [nuclear] NPT [non-proliferation treaty] and second, it should be proved that Iran is seeking high-enriched uranium," he said.

    Last week, Iran said it ran a successful test run of its Russian-built nuclear power plant, in the southern port city of Bushehr.

    Moscow, which is supplying fule for the reactor, has said the it would not be used for military goals.

    Ghashghavi said on Monday that Sergei Shmatko, the Russian energy minister, will visit Tehran  in the next few days.

    His trip is expected to focus on nuclear energy co-operation between the two countries.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Take a tour through East and West Jerusalem to see the difference in quality of life for Israelis and Palestinians.

    Stories from the sex trade

    Stories from the sex trade

    Dutch sex workers, pimps and johns share their stories.

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    As the stigma associated with being childless persists, some elderly women in India risk it all to become mothers.