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IAEA chief says any phone taps violate his privacy
Updated: 2004-12-20 08:53

The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog Mohamed ElBaradei said on Sunday any U.S. monitoring of his telephone calls would be a violation of his privacy but that he had nothing to hide.

Commenting on reports that U.S. officials had tapped his phone conversations with Iranian officials, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief told Al Arabiya television that he had no secrets to conceal.

"Unfortunately if this is true, this is a breach of individual freedoms and rights of privacy and, more importantly, the right of international organizations to work independently," ElBaradei told Dubai-based Al Arabiya television.

"However ... if anyone wants to listen in, then listen in. I don't have anything to hide," he added.

The Washington Post reported earlier this month that U.S. officials had been listening in on phone calls between ElBaradei and Iranian officials for evidence of mistakes that could be used to force his ouster.

Ignoring Washington's opposition, ElBaradei recently announced he would run for a third term as director-general of the IAEA. He has held the post since 1997 and is up for re-election next year.

"I decided to continue my work because countries came up to me asking that I continue. This means they agree with my policies which are based on neutrality and independence," he told the popular Arab satellite channel.

Some U.S. and other countries' officials have privately complained that ElBaradei was not only soft on Iraq and Iran, but had also withheld information from the IAEA board of governors that could boost the U.S. campaign to refer Iran's case to the U.N. Security Council for economic sanctions.

ElBaradei says there is no clear proof that Washington is right and Iran is seeking the bomb -- an allegation that Tehran denies. But he has repeatedly said the jury was still out.

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