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Nuclear deal

November 20, 2009

With just over a week until he steps down, UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei has made a last-ditch bid to Iran to accept international offers to process its enriched uranium abroad by the end of 2009.

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IAEA Director General Mohammed el Baradei
ElBaradei will step down on November 30Image: AP

Outgoing International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head Mohamed ElBaradei has appealed to Iran to agree to give its enriched uranium stores to Russia and France for further processing.

At a press conference in Berlin, ElBaradei said the proposal for Iran to send uranium to the two countries for conversion into fuel would help alleviate Western fears that Tehran was secretly using its nuclear research to develop atomic weapons.

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

Turkey as intermediary

Iran has not formally responded to the IAEA proposal over suspicions the proposal could be a ploy to take its uranium without giving it fuel in return.

To counter those fears, ElBaradei has proposed that Turkey act as an intermediary by holding Iranian uranium while Russia enriches another batch of nuclear fuel. Russia would only receive the Iranian uranium once Tehran had received a batch of enriched fuel.

Senior officials from six world powers meeting in Brussels on Friday have expressed their frustration over Iran's position in the protracted nuclear talks.

"We are disappointed by the lack of follow-up on the three understandings (in the proposed deal)," said senior European Union official Robert Cooper after the gathering of diplomats from the so-called "5+1" nations - Russia, China, the US, Britain and France plus Germany.

ElBaradei also sent a message to Western nations dealing with Tehran to refrain from imposing further restrictions on the Islamic republic.

dfm/AFP/dpa/Reuters

Editor: Kyle James