IAEA head to Iran: Accept enrichment offer

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog opposed additional sanctions on Iran if it did not accept an offer to process its enriched uranium abroad.

"Are sanctions going to resolve the issue? I don’t think so," Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said last Friday at a news conference in Berlin, Reuters reported. "In my view sanctions are going to make things much worse" and make Iran "more hawkish."

ElBaradei encouraged Iran to accept the offer to process its enriched uranium abroad.

"I would hope definitely that we’ll get an agreement before the end of the year,"  "I believe frankly the ball is very much in the Iranian court. I hope they will not miss this unique but fleeting opportunity."

Earlier in the week, Iran rejected a plan in which the Islamic Republic would send its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France in order to be converted into nuclear fuel to be used for medical purposes, but ElBaradei said because it was an oral and not a written response, he did not consider it a final answer.

Sending a message to Iran in the news conference, he said that "you need to understand that this is the first time that you will have a genuine commitment from an American president to engage you fully, on the basis of respect, with no conditions."

The United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China met in Brussels last Friday to discuss the next steps in the wake of Iran’s rejection of the enrichment offer. The day before, President Obama said that the world powers would be developing a new package of sanctions within weeks.

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