IAEA chief says there is ample time to engage Iran
ElBaradei urged Iran anew to cooperate with the IAEA probe in order to build trust.
Iran there is ample time to deal with the concern, the head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog said in a televised interview.
Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the Vienna-based U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said "There is ample time to engage (Iran) and reverse the concern and to move into more engagement rather than more isolation."
"There is a concern, but don't hype the concern," ElBaradei, alluding mainly to U.S. and Israeli warnings, said in a CNN interview broadcast late on Sunday.
ElBaradei said that for Iran to have weapons capacity, it would have to eject IAEA inspectors, leave the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), reconfigure production to refine uranium to the high degree needed for bomb fuel and fit the material into a warhead:
"Even if I go by the CIA and other U.S. intelligence, the estimations (are) that if even if they go through all these scenarios, we're still talking about two to five years from now."
Iran insists its nuclear ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity, and refuses to freeze a programme that it says is its sovereign right under the NPT.
It is under IAEA investigation over alleged military dimensions to its nuclear work as well as U.N. sanctions imposed over past undeclared activity and a failure to prove its nuclear intentions are wholly peaceful.
In an interview with the Washington Post, ElBaradei said Iran had seen that the ability to build an atom bomb in a short period would give it an insurance policy against attack.
"Obviously, they look for their own security, and they have seen that if you have nuclear weapons, or at least the technology, you are somehow protected from an attack," he told the Post's Sunday edition.
ElBaradei urged Iran anew to cooperate with the IAEA probe in order to build trust, but also blamed the impasse on the Bush administration, which declined to open a dialogue with Iran.
He praised new U.S. President Barack Obama for being willing to start direct dialogue with Iran without preconditions.
Reuters Last Mod: 02 Şubat 2009, 16:31