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IAEA Chief Warns Against Attack On Iran

January 26, 2007 -- The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Muhammad el-Baradei, has warned that a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities could have "catastrophic consequences" and would only encourage Iran to develop an atomic bomb.

His comment, which did not identify any country by name, comes amid an international standoff over Iran's nuclear activities and following refusals by the United States and Israel to rule out military strikes to set back Tehran's atomic efforts.

IAEA Director-General el-Baradei told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, today that he favored continued talks with Iran.

"I still believe that the only solution to the Iranian issue, which is in our hands right now, is dialogue, is negotiation, is engagement by the neighbors and by all the relevant parties," el-Baradei said. "The Arab countries have to be engaged, the U.S. has to be engaged. We need to try that. We need to invest in peace because the alternative is not there, and the alternatives could be ten times worse."

The United States, in particular, in recent weeks has toughened its stance against Iran, which some Western governments have accused of seeking to secretly build an atomic bomb.

Officials in Tehran have insisted that their nuclear efforts are peaceful, despite past obfuscation that prompted the UN nuclear watchdog to report Iran's dossier to the Security Council. Security Council members unanimously adopted limited sanctions to target the Iranian nuclear program in late December.

Iranian officials have also repeatedly warned that any attack would unleash a fierce response and chaos in the region.

President Mahmud Ahmadinejad on December 12 repeated his frequent threats against Israel, saying that "just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and does not exist anymore, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out and humanity will be free."

(AP, Reuters)

Copyright (c) 2007. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org



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