The man who heads the world's nuclear watchdog agency says efforts to curtail Iran's nuclear ambitions have been "a failure."
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei tells The Los Angeles Times newspaper that the world has not "moved one inch toward addressing the issues."
In an interview published Saturday, ElBaradei says the use of sanctions has helped to harden Iran's position. He also says Iranians who dislike the current leadership are supporting the regime because they feel their country is "under siege."
The United States and its Western allies accuse Iran of building its nuclear program to produce nuclear weapons. Iran insists the program is for peaceful purposes - and that it will not abandon its effort to develop nuclear technology.
Still, ElBaradei says he is optimistic there will eventually be a U.S.-led settlement between Tehran and the West.
Tehran is under three sets of United Nations sanctions over its disputed nuclear program.
ElBaradei says U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has given him "lots of hope," in part because he has been in favor of talking with countries like Iran.
Last month, the European Union's foreign policy chief said he would like to see President-elect Obama's administration more engaged with Iran on the nuclear issue. Javier Solana also said the U.S. should become more involved in negotiations with Iran and five other leading countries - France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany.
Israel and the United States have not ruled out using military force to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons.