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Rationality needed to solve Iran nuclear issue
Fang Zhou  Updated: 2004-09-15 08:52

It seems that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is determined to free itself from US influence in solving the Iranian nuclear issue despite continuing diplomatic pressure from Washington for a tougher stance on Teheran.

Mohamed ElBaradei, chief of the UN nuclear watchdog, said on Monday there is no deadline for it to end its investigations into Iran's programme, which Washington says is for the production of nuclear weapons. Teheran maintains it is for peaceful purposes.

"It's an open process and we will finish when I believe we are finished," ElBaradei said at a board of governors meeting of the IAEA in Vienna, although he did call on Iran to provide more information.

Elbaradei also said the world's nuclear body has gained some progress in Iran's nuclear probe with the co-operation of Teheran and other countries.

Britain, France and Germany warned Iran of possible "further steps" from the IAEA if it fails to respond to international concerns about its weapons-related nuclear programme by November, when the Vienna-based nuclear agency convenes its next board of governors meeting.

This ultimatum-issuing tone is not constructive.

The three European "big powers" have remained in contact with Iran since its uranium enrichment was released last year. The United States has recently lobbied to have Teheran hauled before the United Nations Security Council.

John R. Bolton, US Undersecretary of State, even threatened on Sunday that the United States will push for sanctions against Iran if Teheran does not renounce its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The three European countries' November deadline for Teheran can drive the issue into an impasse rather than solve it.

The intransigence by Iran and the United States is reminiscent of the eve of the Iraq War, when the United States also set a deadline for former Iraq's Saddam Hussein regime to accept UN nuclear inspection teams to inspect its alleged weapons of mass destruction programme.

This ultimatum has since proved to be useless as the United States, its inspectors, and the IAEA have so far failed to find sound evidence for any such programme in Iraq.

The IAEA and other international organizations should be given their own space to operate independently when dealing with international issues.

(China Daily)

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