El Baredei: To dismiss Iranian nuclear agreement would be ‘a dead end street’

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Mohamed El Baradei former head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency today, in Cameroon, described the announcement by Iran that it will send uranium abroad for enrichment as “a good agreement” and dismissed the sceptical response from Western nations as “a dead end street.”

Speaking from Yaounde where he had just delivered a speech to a conference celebrating the 50th anniversary of Cameroonian independence, Mr El Baradei said he regards the Iranian offer which followed talks with Turkey and Brazil as a sign that Iran is “changing its hand” and should be seen as a positive step.

“Look, you can either choose to see the glass half full or half empty” Mr. El Baradei said this afternoon. “To dismiss this move as window dressing is unhelpful. It is a dead end street.”

The agreement would see low-enriched uranium shipped to Turkey in return for higher-grade nuclear fuel for a research reactor, but it does not include an agreement by Tehran to end its enrichment programme. Mr El Baradei does not see this as a problem.

“This is something that can be discussed at the negotiating table” he said. “They are not going to give up everything before they get to the negotiating table. Nobody does that. ”

ElBaradei stepped down as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last year and is currently planning to stand against President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt’s election next year.

He was speaking at a two day Africa 21 international conference in Cameroon (18-20 May).

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