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. UN nuclear watchdog chief alleges smear campaign against him
BERLIN (AFP) Feb 19, 2005
The head of the UN's nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, denounced what he said was a campaign to discredit him that had called into question his impartially in the Middle East, in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel to be published Monday.

"There's a real campaign against me, trying to drag me through the mud," ElBaradei said.

The Egyptian head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said he's been accused of not being impartial toward Muslim countries in getting them to reveal any secret nuclear activity.

The administration of US President George W. Bush has criticized the IAEA over Iran, which the United States believes is conducting a secret nuclear weapons program.

The Washington Post reported in December that the Bush administration had listened in on telephone conversations between ElBaradei and Iranian diplomats, seeking ammunition to oust him. The White House has refused to comment on the report.

"I have nothing to hide professionally. But it is not very nice when you apparently can't even talk in private on the telephone with your wife or your daughter," ElBaradei told Der Spiegel.

Some in the US administration have expressed the desire to block ElBaradei from serving a third term as IAEA chief on the basis that he is not firm enough with Iran.

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