International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei has given what amounts to his final report on global nuclear activity before he retires at the end of this year.
In a remark at the Council on Foreign Relations Wednesday, ElBaradei, spoke about the world's nuclear hotspots. First he was questioned about Iran and western suspicions about its nuclear weapons capability.
"We have no indication, no complete proof, that Iran has an ongoing nuclear weapons program," said Mohamed ElBaradei. "Iran's program is an effort to force recognition of its role as a regional power. In my view Iran's nuclear program is a means to an end. It wants to be recognized as a regional power. They believe the nuclear know-how brings prestige, brings power and they would like to see the U.S. engaging them. "
The IAEA chief acknowledged Israel's concerns about a nuclear armed Iran or any other hostile country. But he said there are two sides to the story.
"If you look from the Arab side of the view, the Arabs are as concerned if not more about the Israeli perceived nuclear weapon program as Israeli is perceived about the Arabs," he said. "You cannot sit and expect the rest of the Arab world is comfortable reading every day that Israel has 200 nuclear weapons."
On the subject of North Korea, ElBaradei said there are two key issues:
"One is its [North Korea's] obsession with security and the possibility of regime change by the U.S. that requires a lot of bilateral assurance that you are not after the regime, irrespective of the nature of that regime, the character of that regime-that's a different issue; the other is that the only trump card they have is a nuclear fuel and they would like to use that to maximize humanitarian assistance, economic assistance they would like to get," said ElBaradei.
ElBaradei says there is hope, but nations must take risks to talk to achieve peace. He believes the world has a unique opportunity at the moment to get the issues on the table but he said, those opportunities are usually fleeting.
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