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UN Nuclear Chief: Negotiations With Iran at 'Dead End'

Mohamed ElBaradei says there has been no movement by Iran for some time on issues of concern about its nuclear program.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency says the organization has reached a dead end in a probe into Iran's nuclear program. The IAEA's board is meeting to consider a resolution condemning Iran's nuclear program.

In remarks to the International Atomic Energy Agency's board, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei expressed frustration over Iran's failure to cooperate with the Vienna-based agency. Mr. ElBaradei leaves office at the end of November, and his remarks have grown sharply more critical of Iran in recent months.

On Thursday, he said he was disappointed that Iran had not agreed on a deal to further enrich its uranium overseas. The deal has the support of the United States, Russia and France and it aims to provide a safeguard that Iran's uranium is not being used to make a nuclear weapon.

"In my view the proposed agreement presents a unique opportunity after many years of animosity and hostility to address a humanitarian need and create a space for negotiation. This opportunity should be seized and it would be highly regrettable if it was missed," he said.

Mr. ElBaradei also criticized Iran for hiding its efforts to build a uranium enrichment site until early September. Iran began building the site two years ago, and he says, plans to make it operational by 2011.

"Iran's late declaration of the new facility reduces confidence in the absence of other nuclear facilities under construction in Iran which have not been declared by the agency," he added.

Mr. ElBaradei's comments come as the IAEA board is considering a draft resolution on Iran.  According to press reports, the draft urges Iran to halt construction of the uranium enrichment site and to confirm that it has no other hidden nuclear activities. Diplomats are reportedly confident the measure will be passed. But Iran's ambassador to the IAEA told a German newspaper that Tehran would reduce its cooperation with the IAEA to a minimum if that happens.

Much of the world community fears Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon. Tehran insists its efforts are for peaceful purposes only.

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