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Russia's Proposal On Iran Nukes Lauded

Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed ElBaradei gestures while speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday Jan. 26, 2006.
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U.N. nuclear chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Thursday he was hopeful that a Russian proposal could help break the standoff over Iran's nuclear research and enrichment plans.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting, ElBaradei said he was happy that earlier in the day Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, said Russia's proposal to move Iran's enrichment program to Russian territory was "a positive one."

But State Department officials say they don't see much reason to get excited, pointing out that Iran has misled Russia before and was likely to do so again, reports CBS News chief White House correspondent John Roberts.

Roberts reports that the Bush administration is going to keep up the pressure to get a referral from the Atomic Energy Agency to get Iran hauled before the U.N. Security Council – but the administration is split over whether the Security Council can put enough pressure on Iran that it would back down.

ElBaradei said he also was encouraged that all parties still were discussing a diplomatic solution. His comments came amid quickening diplomatic negotiations ahead of a crucial Feb. 2 meeting of his International Atomic Energy Agency, which could refer the issue to the Security Council.

Britain, France and Germany have been leading efforts to get Iran to abandon uranium conversion and enrichment activities, which it refuses to do. The three countries declared that negotiations had reached a dead end two days after Iran broke U.N. seals at a uranium enrichment plant Jan. 10 and said it was resuming nuclear research after a two-year freeze.

"We need Iran to use maximum transparency because there are a lot of question marks about its program," ElBaradei said. "They need to be assured that they can use nuclear power for electricity, but the international community needs to be assured that the Iran program is exclusively for peaceful purposes."

Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said at the forum Thursday that Iran should not be allowed develop nuclear weapons, but he did not say if the country should face economic sanctions.

"Their security is not threatened," Musharraf said of Iran during a discussion on Islam. He said his own country had nuclear weapons because it maintained a balance of power with neighboring India.

"When a nuclear threat was posed to us we had to set the balance right again," he said. "Every country has a right to defend its security if its security is threatened."