United Nations and Iranian officials have been secretly negotiating a deal to persuade world powers to lift sanctions and allow Tehran to retain the bulk of its nuclear programme in return for co-operation with UN inspectors…

It was thought that Mr ElBaradei was anxious to secure his legacy after infighting over his perceived weakness in dealing with Iran.

The plan would require the UN Security Council to revoke the three existing sanctions and five resolutions ordering Iran to halt its uranium enrichment — an unthinkable development at a time when the West is focused on how to impose more, not fewer, sanctions on Iran…

Mr ElBaradei’s draft agreement envisaged allowing Iran to maintain and even expand its uranium enrichment programme, albeit under closer IAEA scrutiny, as part of a globally managed nuclear fuel bank. “The sides are to set up an international consortium for uranium enrichment, both in Iran and outside Iran,” the document said.