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  Monday, September 16, 2019
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Russian efforts to resolve the long-running Iran nuclear problem were an example of constructive mediation
The head of the UN's nuclear watchdog said Thursday that Russian efforts to resolve the long-running Iran nuclear problem were an example of constructive mediation. Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, called Russia's offer to enrich uranium for Iran's nuclear power plants on its soil a positive initiative, and said it was still open to negotiation. ElBaradei was speaking after talks with Tehran officials in the wake of an announcement Tuesday night by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Iran had successfully completed a research-scale nuclear fuel cycle. The IAEA head said he could not yet confirm that Iran had enriched uranium to 3.5%, which is sufficient to produce nuclear fuel, but called on the Islamic Republic to suspend all nuclear activities until the end of April to resolve outstanding issues by the deadline set by the UN Security Council. Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said Iran would not back down from its nuclear research, and that suspension of nuclear activities would not bring a positive solution to the existing crisis. But he reiterated that Iran was pursuing uranium enrichment strictly for civilian purposes, and respected its international obligations in the nuclear sphere. The UN Security Council demanded late last month that Tehran re-impose a moratorium on uranium enrichment and ordered the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to report on the country's compliance with the demand by the end of April. Russia has opposed Security Council sanctions against Iran. In a bid to defuse the crisis, it proposed enriching uranium for Iranian nuclear power plants via a joint venture to be based in Russia. Tehran, however, rejected the proposal, but said it could still be discussed.
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