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. Iran mocks US for allegedly bugging UN nuclear chief
TEHRAN (AFP) Dec 13, 2004
Iran on Monday accused the United States of violating international law by allegedly listening in on telephone calls between the head of the UN's nuclear watchdog Mohamed ElBaradei and Iranian diplomats.

Government spokesman Abdollah Ramazanzadeh claimed that the conversations did not even merit being bugged given that nothing secret was ever even discussed with the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"This affair is not very important, because we don't have any secret discussions with Mr ElBaradei and tapping the calls would not make any difference," the spokesman told reporters.

But he added that "this is not the first time we have seen the United States violate international rules.

"We would expect those people who spend their time accusing other of breaking international law to respect it themselves," he said.

The Washington Post said Sunday that US President George W. Bush's administration has listened in on phone calls between and Iranian diplomats in a search for ammunition to oust ElBaradei as head of the IAEA.

"The intercepted calls have not produced any evidence of nefarious conduct by ElBaradei," the Post said, quoting three unnamed US officials who had read the transcripts.

"Some people think he sounds way too soft on the Iranians, but that's about it," one official was quoted as saying.

The United States wants the IAEA to report Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions over what Washington says is a covert nuclear weapons programme.

But ElBaradei says the jury is still out on whether Tehran's programme is peaceful or not.

The Egyptian diplomat, 62, also earned the ire of Washington by questioning US intelligence on Iraq. The Bush administration opposes his winning a third term in 2005 as IAEA chief.

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