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ElBaradei: There is Time to Solve Iranian Nuke Crisis


The head of the U.N. atomic watchdog agency says there is still plenty of time to resolve the dispute surrounding Iran's nuclear program. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports Mohamed ElBaradei says diplomacy is the only solution.

The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran does not currently have the know-how to make a nuclear weapon. Mohamed ElBaradei says the goal is to prevent them from building one in the future.

"We are not talking about Iran having today a nuclear weapon. We are trying to make sure that the future intention of Iran is peaceful," he said.

During an appearance on CNN's Late Edition program, ElBaradei was asked if there is evidence a secret weapons-development program is underway in Iran.

"What we have seen in the past is certain procurement that has not been reported to us. There are experiments. And that is where we are working now with Iran to clarify the past and the present. But I have not received any information that there is a complete active nuclear weapons program going on right now," said ElBaradei.

Iran maintains its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, and is designed to produce nuclear power. But the United States has warned it may be a cover for the production of nuclear weapons, and President Bush has said a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to World War III.

Speaking on the CBS television news program Face the Nation, the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, urged the White House to tone down its words.

"My belief is that we ought to dial down the rhetoric," he said. "We ought to make it clear that there is always a military option if Iran goes nuclear. But we ought to just speak more softly because these hot words that are coming out of the administration, this hot rhetoric plays right into the hands of fanatics in Iran."

Levin went on to say that he supports the administration's decision to impose unilateral sanctions on Iran. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican on the Armed Services panel, says the president had no choice.

Graham told Face the Nation that there is little stomach in some countries, such as Russia, for stepped up multi-lateral pressure on Tehran.

"The diplomatic efforts to control Iran need to continue. They need to be more robust, but we are seeing mixed signals," he said. "The U.N. is becoming ineffective when it comes to regulating rogue regimes and Russia is sending all the wrong signals as far as I am concerned."

He said President Bush has not overstated the threat posed by a nuclear Iran. Graham said the president's actions are justified because - in his words - time is running out.