Iran wants to be seen as regional power: ElBaradei
Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran says is only intended to generate electricity, is an attempt to force the world to acknowledge it as a regional power, U.N. nuclear chief Mohamed ElBaradei said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.
"They believe that the nuclear know-how brings prestige, brings power, and they would like to see the U.S. engaging them," he told a forum on nuclear disarmament. "Unfortunately that holds some truth. Iran has been taken seriously since they have developed their program."
Saying Iran's nuclear program was a "means to an end," ElBaradei said Tehran "wants to be recognized as a regional power."
He reiterated the position of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. agency he has led for 12 years and leaves at the end of the month, that there is "no concrete evidence" Tehran is pursuing atomic weapons as Western countries suspect.
The United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China have tried for years to persuade Iran to halt uranium enrichment in exchange for economic and political incentives. Tehran has so far refused to a halt the program.
Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations, ElBaradei had little to say about talks on a draft nuclear fuel deal among Iran, Russia, the United States and France in Vienna for which he has become an unofficial mediator.
The IAEA fuel proposal calls for Iran to transfer most of its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France to turn it into fuel for a reactor that produces isotopes for treating cancer. But diplomats say Iran is reluctant to ship its uranium abroad.