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Incoming IAEA Chief: No Sign Iran Seeking Nuclear Weapons

The incoming head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says he knows of no hard evidence that Iran is trying to gain the ability to develop nuclear weapons.

Japanese diplomat Yukiya Amano told Reuters news agency he has seen no such evidence in IAEA official documents.

Outgoing IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said last month it was his "gut feeling" that Iran wants the ability to build atomic weapons. He said Iran's ultimate aim is to be known as a major power in the Middle East.

Iran's ambassador to the IAEA (Ali Asghar Soltanieh) said at the time ElBaradei is wrong and that Iran has no intention of ever having a nuclear weapon.

The United States and its Western allies believe Iran's nuclear program may have a military component.

Iran has long maintained that its nuclear program is intended to produce electricity.

Iran has been hit with three sets of U.N. sanctions for its refusal to stop enriching uranium, a process that can be used to develop nuclear weapons.

Amano, who on Thursday was elected director-general of the IAEA, will succeed ElBaradei later this year. ElBaradei has served for 12 years as head of the U.N. nuclear agency.

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