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UPDATED: 09:10, April 16, 2007
ElBaradei calls for nuclear-arms-free Mideast
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Visiting International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei called Sunday for the Middle East to be a nuclear-arms-free zone which includes Iran and Israel.

"The Middle East should be a zone free of weapons of mass destruction, a zone in which Israel and Iran are both members," Elbaradei was quoted by a royal court statement as saying.

"This is the last chance to build security in the Middle East based on trust and cooperation rather than on the possession of nuclear arms," said ElBaradei, who is in Jordan on the last leg of a three-nation regional tour which also took him to Saudi Arabia and Oman.

He said as "Arab countries have joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty while Israel hasn't", there would be an "imbalance", with Israel possessing a nuclear deterrent while Arab states committing themselves to programs for peaceful uses.

"When a just and comprehensive peace is established between the Arab states and Israel, it should be forged in parallel with a security order based on wiping out all weapons of mass destruction."

He also urged Iran to be "transparent" in its nuclear program.

"We hope that Iran will cooperate with us, using enough transparency, so that we can assert that it's nuclear program is dedicated for peaceful purposes," ElBaradei said.

"We still have plenty of time to solve the problem peacefully, and there's no way to have that except through dialogue," he said, stressing that the military solution is "unrealistic and disastrous."

Source: Xinhua

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