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IAEA chief: should have ‘howled’ louder on Iraq

3International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei attends a board of governors meeting in Vienna June 18, 2009.

IAEA chief: should have ‘howled’ louder on Iraq

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said he should have “howled harder” on Iraq and that the war was the most “dissatisfying moment” of his life.

Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in responding to 10 questions in Time magazine, also said the jury is out on whether Iran was developing nuclear weapons.

One of the main justifications for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 by the administration of President George W. Bush was the assertion that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. No such weapons were found in the years since the war began.

“The most dissatisfying moment of my life, of course, was when the Iraq war was launched. That hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives on the basis of fiction, not facts, makes me shudder,” ElBaradei said.

Asked what had been a “bad judgment call” on his part, ElBaradei responded: “I should probably, before the Iraq war, have screamed and howled harder and louder to prevent people from misusing the information that was made available by us.”

On Iran, ElBaradei said Tehran needs to clarify questions about its nuclear program and that he supports U.S. President Barack Obama’s effort to engage in a dialogue.

“We are not sure that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. The jury is still out,” ElBaradei said.

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