VIENNA (AFP) — UN atomic energy chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Monday that force should not be used yet to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis, dismissing talk of war as "a lot of hype".
"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," the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general told reporters.
"There is a UN charter and there are rules for the international use of force.
"I hope everybody would have gotten the lesson after the Iraq situation when we see a drama unfolding every day," ElBaradei said, adding that hundreds of thousands of "innocent civilians have lost their lives on the suspicion that a country had nuclear weapons."
ElBaradei had pleaded before a US-led force invaded Iraq in 2003 to allow his inspectors to verify whether its president Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
The US invasion stopped him from doing this, and it later turned out that Saddam did not have such weapons.
The IAEA is now investigating Iran on US charges that it is using what Tehran says is a civilian energy program 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" in the over four-year-old IAEA investigation, ElBaradei said.
He said that "by November, 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. People need to understand we are dealing with an issue that has a lot to do with peace and security and regional instability in the Middle East, and I would ask everybody to hold their horses until we go through the process," ElBaradei said.
He said the security issues can only be resolved "through dialogue and negotiation."
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner had warned Sunday that the world should brace for a possible war over the Iranian crisis if Tehran persisted, as France and the United States charge, in seeking nuclear weapons.
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 program."
He said current talk of war "is a lot of hype" and reminded him of a George Orwell quotation which he paraphrased as "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.
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