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No evidence Iran seeks nukes: new IAEA head

Amano says no evidence found on IAEA documents

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The incoming head of the United Nation's nuclear watchdog said on Friday he did not see any written evidence that Iran was trying to gain the ability to develop nuclear weapons.

"I don't see any evidence in IAEA official documents about this," Yukiya Amano told Reuters, when asked whether he believed Iran was seeking nuclear weapons capability.

Current IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei told the BBC last month it was his "gut feeling" that Iran was seeking the ability to produce nuclear arms, if it desired, as an "insurance policy" against perceived threats from neighbouring countries or the United States.

"I'm not going to be a "soft" director general or a "tough" director general," Amano told Reuters, when asked how he would approach issues like Iran and Syria, which are both subject to IAEA probes.

Iran, currently facing the worst unrest since its 1979 Islamic revolution over disputed election results, is at loggerheads with the West over its alleged nuclear program.

The U.S. and the Middle East's only nuclear power Israel say Tehran is attempting to make an atomic bomb, which Tehran strongly denies and insists it wants nuclear energy for energy purposes.

Japanese diplomat Amano won the election as head of the IAEA on Thursday and will become the agency's next general-director when Egyptian ElBaradei ends his term in November.

Amano won the required 2/3 majority of IAEA governing board members expressing a preference, with 23 votes and one abstention in the 35-nation meeting, defeating his South African rival.

But his triumph may be seen as hollow by many nations which wanted an IAEA leader with broad consensus backing raise questions about his authority in tackling rising threats to the global nuclear non-proliferation regime.

I don't see any evidence in IAEA official documents about this

Yukiya Amano