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Former IAEA Chief:  Iran Inspections Step in Right Direction

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The former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency says it is a step in the right direction for Iran to let agency inspectors visit its uranium-enrichment site. But he says questions about Iran's nuclear program will not be easily answered.

Former U.N. weapons inspector and International Atomic Energy Agency chief Hans Blix says Iran's nuclear program is suspect. In a British radio interview, he says Iran's choice to enrich its own uranium does not make sense.

"The whole configuration of the Iranian program has raised questions. They have two power reactors, and they prefer to enrich themselves, which is very expensive. A country like mine, Sweden, has 10 power reactors and we find it cheaper to buy, and South Korea has 20 power reactors and they also find it cheaper to buy," he said.

Blix says it will not be easy for Iran to dismiss those questions.

"The suspicions I think will be there, I do not think there is any way in which Iran can really persuade the other side that they do not intend at some stage to go for a weapon or at least be closer to a weapon," he added.

Inspections are not necessarily the best way forward, Blix says. The same type of centrifuges can be used to enrich weapons-grade uranium as those needed to make fuel for nuclear power plants.

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"In some ways its a side track to chase for evidence of their intention. What is important is is there any way they can be persuaded to stay away from enrichment? Is there something they prefer? And there you come with incentives and disincentives," said Blix.

Blix says he thinks carrots will work better than sticks.

"I think that dignity and humiliation plays a big role. If Iran, I mean there is a way to shaming them into confess you are sinning and hoping that this will make them softer, I think is probably opposite, that rewards are better," he continued.

Egypt's Ambassador to Britain Hatem Seif El Nasr says rewards are already working.

"The IAEA is a very important component of this, but we saw that the involvement of the United States and the bilateral talks that they had made a change in the atmosphere where all these negotiations are taking place, so we feel the involvement of the United States in direct talks with the Iranians is a good sign," he said.

The last thing the Middle East needs right now is a new confrontation, says the head of multilateral relations at the Arab League, Wael Al-Assad. He says Iran is walking a delicate line and diplomacy is the only solution

"Iran is trying to create the right conditions to get back into the international community without giving up its rights as well. Because as a country it does have rights and we should not in the moment ask her to give up these rights," he said.

Article Four of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty guarantees nations the right to pursue nuclear research for peaceful purposes. That is what Iran claims it is doing, and is still trying to convince the world that that is all it is doing.