AMMAN, Jordan – The U.N. nuclear watchdog chief urged Iran on Sunday to be "transparent" in its nuclear program and other countries not to resort to military action over Tehran's nuclear standoff.
Mohamed ElBaradei, who heads the International Atomic Energy Agency, is in Jordan on the last leg of a three-nation regional tour that comes as several Mideast countries have said they plan to pursue nuclear energy, a development seen as aimed at countering Iran's own disputed nuclear ambitions.
"We hope that Iran will cooperate with us, using enough transparency, so that we can assert that it's nuclear program is dedicated for peaceful purposes," ElBaradei said after giving his agency's blessing to Jordan's plans for acquiring a peaceful nuclear energy program.
"We still have plenty of time to solve the problem peacefully, and there's no way to have that except through dialogue," he said, according to the official Petra news agency.
"The military solution isn't considered," he said. "It's illogical. It'd be tragic and it'll complicate things rather than solve the issue,"
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced last week that the Natanz facility had begun "industrial-scale" production of nuclear fuel. Iran's top nuclear negotiator said workers had begun injecting uranium gas into a new array of 3,000 centrifuges.
But ElBaradei discounted the claims last week of a major advance in uranium enrichment, a process the United Nations demands Iran suspend or else be hit by increasing sanctions.
Also Sunday, Jordan's King Abdullah II during closed-door talks with ElBaradei promised that his country will be a model for nuclear energy it plans to develop for peaceful means.
Jordan, an IAEA member and signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, "will set a model for others in the peaceful use of nuclear energy," Abdullah said, according to another Petra.
It quoted ElBaradei as saying his "agency was ready to help Jordan to benefit from nuclear energy for peaceful purposes." He said the IAEA would dispatch a team to Jordan next week to look into its plans.
Abdullah said its nuclear program would only be for "peaceful uses, generating electricity and desalinating water," according to Petra. He said his country needed to develop the technology to diversify its energy sources, mainly due to rising oil prices.
In January, Abdullah publicly announced for the first time that he wanted to develop Jordan's nuclear capabilities for peaceful purposes — a direct message to Iran that its own nuclear pursuits would not go unchecked. Several regional states, including the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Saudi Arabia and Oman, as well as Egypt and Turkey declared similar intentions.
Though the U.S. claims Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons — charges Tehran denies — Washington indicated it had no objection to a peaceful nuclear program in Jordan.
Abdullah's announcement came in an interview with an Israeli newspaper, a move seen to assure his Israeli peace partner that his nuclear program was not aimed against the Jewish state.
Key U.S. allies, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, have expressed concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions and the growing Shiite Muslim influence in the region. They claim the Shiite influence is boosting the hardline Tehran regime and giving rise to more extremism, while jeopardizing an Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and threatening their own states.
Jordan also has real energy concerns. Unlike its oil-rich Gulf Arab neighbors, Jordan now imports 95 percent of all of its energy needs and once depended on Iraq for all its oil supplies.
Abdullah said he wants to see Jordan set up a nuclear power plant by 2015 and viewed nuclear energy as a clear alternative to importing oil for such purposes.
The desert kingdom is also considered one of the 10 most water poor countries in the world. Official estimates put its water deficit at more than 30 percent of its available water resources.