Iran would need 3-8 yrs to produce bomb-IAEA chief

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PARIS, Oct 22 (Reuters) Iran would need three to eight years to produce a nuclear bomb, the head of the UN's nuclear watchdog said in an interview published today.

''I cannot judge their intentions, but supposing that Iran does intend to acquire a nuclear bomb, it would need between another three and eight years to succeed,'' Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told France's Le Monde newspaper.

''All the intelligence services agree on that,'' he said.

ElBaradei said force should be used only when all diplomatic options have failed, adding there was plenty of time for diplomacy, sanctions, dialogue and incentives to bear fruit.

''I want to get people away from the idea that Iran will be a threat from tomorrow, and that we are faced right now with the issue of whether Iran should be bombed or allowed to have the bomb,'' the Nobel peace prize winner said.

''We are not at all in that situation. Iraq is a glaring example of how, in many cases, the use of force exacerbates the problem rather than solving it.'' REUTERS SG VC1545

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