U.N. Nuclear Official Denies He Takes Orders From U.S.

VIENNA—The chief of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog pushed back against charges he takes his orders from the U.S., as the leaks of secret State Department cables continue to rankle the world’s diplomatic corps.

WikiLeaks’ exposure of internal U.S. correspondence at the International Atomic Energy Agency is particularly worrying to U.S. and U.N. officials, as it plays into the narrative being pressed by Iran and Syria that the IAEA isn’t a neutral body.

This, diplomats in Vienna say, could provide Tehran and Damascus additional political cover to deny cooperation with IAEA inspectors who are attempting to determine whether the two countries are seeking to develop atomic weapons. Iran and Syria both say their pursuit of nuclear technologies is strictly for peaceful purposes.

“I stand firm against the spread of nuclear weapons. I base everything on the facts,” IAEA director general Yukiya Amano said Thursday in response to a barrage of questions from reporters about the cables. “I choose my words carefully, but everything in the reports is based on facts.”

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