SPIEGEL ONLINE: The United States government is threatening to capture or kill Iranian agents in Iraq and Tehran has announced it will install thousands of centrifuges for the enrichment of uranium in Natanz. Are we witnessing a dramatic escalation of the conflict?
ElBaradei: If we continue on the same course, we could see a spiral of escalation. There is an urgent need for creative diplomacy and leadership. Diplomacy is pressure and engagement, and I very much hope that we can find the right balance. A durable, peaceful solution will not come through pressure only. It will ultimately come at the negotiating table.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: You don't sound very optimistic.
ElBaradei: The United Nations resolution itself recognizes the importance of finding a negotiated solution that will allow for the development of relations and cooperation with Iran. Clearly the sanctions were the expression of concern by the international community. I think the message was heard loud and clear in Iran.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: So why not simply wait until Iran gives in and stops its nuclear program?
ElBaradei: My concern is that if we only focus on sanctions, that might lead to confrontation on both sides, ending in an uncontrolled chain reaction. My worry right now is that each side is sticking to their guns: The international community is saying "sanctions or bust," and Iran is saying "nuclear enrichment capability or bust." Ultimately sanctions are useful to send a message, but they have to be followed by an effort to create conditions for negotiations.