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. ElBaradei dismisses Iran war talk as 'hype'
VIENNA, Sept 17 (AFP) Sep 17, 2007
The UN atomic agency chief on Monday warned against the hasty use of force in the Iranian nuclear dispute but dismissed French comments about possible war as "a lot of hype."

Iran in turn warned at a UN conference against the West picking a confrontation over fears that Iran is seeking to build a nuclear weapon.

"We need always to remember that use of force could only be resorted to when ... every other option has been exhausted. I don't think we are at all there," ElBaradei told reporters at a conference of his International Atomic Energy Agency.

"There is a UN charter and there are rules for the international use of force," ElBaradei said.

Iranian Vice President Reza Aghazadeh told the general conference of the IAEA's 144 member states that Western countries "have always chosen the path of confrontation instead of the path of understanding and cordial relations toward the great nation of Iran."

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner warned Sunday that there could be a war if Iran persists with its uranium enrichment and other nuclear activities. French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Monday that tensions with Iran are "extreme".

Aghazadeh, who also heads Iran's atomic agency, said the Iranian nuclear programme is a peaceful effort to generate electricity.

He said the West "cannot tolerate the addition of independent states and developing countries to the ongoing movement of those seeking to achieve ownership of modern technology."

"The great nation of Iran has recorded your discriminatory behavior and performance in its memory and will not forget," Aghazadeh said.

US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, speaking at the conference, said the United States remains "determined to use diplomacy" to make Iran comply with the UN Security Council resolutions. US leaders still insist, however, that the military option is not off the table.

ElBaradei said: "I hope everybody would have gotten the lesson after the Iraq situation when we see a drama unfolding every day and we have 700,000 people, innocent civilians have lost their lives on the suspicion that a country had nuclear weapons."

ElBaradei had pleaded before the invasion of Iraq in 2003 for the United States to let UN inspectors verify whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. It was found after the invasion that there were no weapons.

The IAEA is now investigating US charges that Tehran is using what its nuclear programme to hide the development of nuclear weapons.

"I think what we need now to do is to encourage Iran to work with the agency to clarify the outstanding issues," ElBaradei said. He added that by November or December "we will be able to know whether Iran is acting in good faith or not, and if not, then obviously we will have a different situation."

"But people need to bear with us."

ElBaradei said that based on the work of IAEA inspectors in Iran: "I have made it very clear that I don't see today a clear and present danger in regard to the Iran nuclear programme."

Without refering to Kouchner's comments, he said talk of war "is a lot of hype" and reminded him of a George Orwell quotation which he paraphrased as saying "that in time of hype telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."

"If that is the case, I will continue, I can promise you, to be a revolutionary by giving the truth in an objective and impartial manner," ElBaradei said.

Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik slammed Kouchner's comments as "martial rhetoric".

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