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ElBaradei Says Iran To Develop Atomic Weapons If Israel Attacks

Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the world’s atomic-energy watchdog, said an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would only persuade the Islamic republic to build a nuclear arsenal.

“You can bomb their facilities, but you cannot bomb their knowledge,” ElBaradei, former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said today in Hong Kong at a Credit Suisse Group AG conference. “If you were to bomb Iranian facilities, there will be a lesson for Iran -- to develop nuclear weapons.”

Israel accuses Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons and hasn’t ruled out a military strike to head off further development. The U.S. and European Union have tightened sanctions in an effort to persuade Iran to halt uranium enrichment and allow international inspections of its program, which it insists is for peaceful purposes.

ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who in January decided not to run for president of Egypt, said Western countries need Iran to help stabilize a region dealing with conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon.

“They both need each other,” he said. “Right now each one is waiting for the other side to blink first and that is not going to happen.”

Restoring law and order is the most important challenge facing Arab countries that overthrew its leaders over the past year, he added.

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