( AFP ) - Campaigning for tougher sanctions on Iran, Israel went on the offensive Tuesday against the UN nuclear watchdog, accusing its leaders of playing into Tehran's hands over its nuclear ambitions.
"Unfortunately there are foreign officials playing the Iranians' game by contributing to the Iranian strategy of foot-dragging," Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Mark Regev told AFP.
"From this point of view the International (Atomic Energy) Agency and its leadership are guilty," Regev added.
"One could ask whether the agency agreed to fulfil the role the Iranians want it to play, to allow Tehran to implement its strategy," he said.
The criticism comes with the IAEA poised to publish a new report on Iran's nuclear ambitions that will serve as a key part of further discussions at the United Nations on whether to impose follow-up sanctions on Tehran.
Israel and its chief ally the United States are campaigning for tougher international sanctions on Tehran, charging that the Islamic republic is using its civilian nuclear programme as a cover to develop atomic weapons.
Tehran flatly denies that it has any nuclear weapons ambitions and insists that its activities are for civilian purposes only.
China and Russia, two permanent members of the UN Security Council, remain opposed to Western and Israeli calls for additional sacntions.
On Monday, the director general of Israel's foreign ministry, Aharon Abramovitz, also attacked the IAEA.
"Instead of being an element contributing to efforts being made by the international community, the Agency is working to make them fail," he said in a speech in Jerusalem.
Israel, which belongs to the IAEA but has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is widely considered to be the Middle East's sole -- if undeclared -- nuclear-armed nation.
It considers Iran its chief enemy after repeated statements by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the Jewish state should be wiped off the map.