The head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog says the row over Iran’s atomic energy programme is in a “critical phase”.But Mohammed ElBaradei said it is not yet at crisis point and Tehran still has an opportunity to diffuse the situation. He was speaking as the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency met to discuss whether to refer Iran to the UN Security Council, a move that could lead to sanctions. He said: “It is not about any imminent threat. Whether the board’s outcome will be to report to the Security Council or not, everybody agrees that the only way to move forward is to go through diplomacy, through negotiations, where there’s still a window of opportunity for all concerned parties to find a way forward.” Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said Tehran also believes that negotiations could bring about what he called a fair resolution of the dispute. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has re-iterated that his country will never give up its nuclear programme. On Wednesday he lambasted western powers at a gathering in Tehran and said Iran would not be intimidated. In a letter sent to the IAEA today, Tehran said cooperation, including snap inspections at its plants, would cease if it was referred to the Security Council. It added that what it described as all the peaceful nuclear activities under voluntary suspension would be resumed without any restriction.