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UN nuclear chief tells France not to raise tensions over Iran

UN nuclear chief tells France not to raise tensions over Iran
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The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog has appealed for calm after France said Iran’s disputed atomic programme might lead to war. Mohammed El-Baradei, who runs the International Atomic Energy Agency, says the world must learn its lessons from the build-up to the war in Iraq.

The row was sparked by the French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, who said France must prepare for war over Tehran’s nuclear activities.

Speaking at the IAEA’s annual conference in Austria, Iran’s Vice President accused Kouchner of trying to trigger a crisis.

Kouchner’s comments also drew a swift rebuke from Mohammed El-Baradei who says talks should continue right up until the end.

“I have no doubt if the politicians will sit together and start to to discuss their grievances; this will be a much better way to move forward than talking about who is going to hit the other first,” he said.

Iran claims its nuclear programme is aimed solely at generating electricity and not weapons. But France’s Prime Minister, Francois Fillon, insists Kouchner was right to say the situation is dangerous.

“The President has decided that the world’s major powers should use further sanctions to show they are serious,” he added.