MADRID - Iran's nuclear programme does not constitute an immediate threat, the head of the UN atomic watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, said in an interview published here on Sunday.
"Iran does not represent an imminent nuclear threat," ElBaradei told El Pais newspaper, explaining why the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decided not to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for threatened sanctions over its nuclear programme.
"For the time being, the Iranian government has not prevented our inspectors from accessing any military building or installation. Until 2003, the Iranians sought to hide things. But their collaboration is good now," ElBaradei said in the interview, given in Vienna on December 9.
"There is still one large military installation left to inspect. I hope that we will be able to access it soon, but there has not been any ban or negative response," he said.
Iran is due on Monday to resume talks with European negotiators aimed at building on Iran's agreement to suspend sensitive uranium enrichment activities that have sparked fears it is seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.
The two sides will be negotiating a long-term accord that includes "objective guarantees" Iran will not develop the bomb and a package of trade, technology and security incentives.
Iran has pledged to maintain its nuclear fuel cycle freeze for the duration of the negotiations.
Iran insists its nuclear programme is a peaceful one aimed at generating electricity, but the United States in particular suspects it of operating a covert atomic weapons programme.