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IAEA Chief:  Iran Not Cooperating


The head of the United Nations' nuclear agency says Iran is not helping resolve questions about any possible military aspect of its nuclear program.

IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said Tuesday in Paris that Tehran is not providing any access or clarification on the issue. Western nations have accused Iran of working on nuclear programs in the past, as well as possibly continuing such efforts.

The U.N. has placed Tehran under three sets of international sanctions for its nuclear work.

Iran says its nuclear program is, and always has been, for peaceful, civilian purposes and argues that it cooperates with the IAEA.

ElBaradei's comments come one day after he said that Israel's refusal to sign the nuclear weapons non-proliferation treaty is undermining the treaty's legitimacy in Arab public opinion.

Writing in the International Herald Tribune newspaper Monday, the IAEI chief said that Israel is the only state in the Middle East known to have nuclear weapons.

Israel has never confirmed or denied that it has nuclear weapons. But ElBaradei says Israel's position creates a perceived double standard.

ElBaradei says the issue compounds the challenges of resolving the Palestinian issue, which he says is the world's most perilous and intractable conflict.

The IAEA chief also said U.S. President Barack Obama's pledge to engage in direct diplomacy with Iran is long overdue.

On Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad said his country is waiting to see what he calls the "real changes" in U.S. foreign policy toward Iran. In an interview on state-run television, he said relations between the two countries can only evolve if there is a shift in U.S. policy.

Last week, Mr. Ahmedinejad said Iran was ready for talks with the United States on the basis of mutual respect.

The remarks signal a significant softening of tone between the United States and Iran, which severed ties 30 years ago.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.



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