The head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency warned on Monday that new UN sanctions imposed on North Korea and under consideration for Iran could empower hardliners in both countries
Mohammed ElBaradei, executive director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he remained unconvinced Iran was developing nuclear weapons and "absolutely" believed a nuclear deal with Pyongyang was still possible.
"Once you start applying penalties, it brings hardliners in the driver's seat," he told an audience at Georgetown University, where he received an award.
He questioned whether sanctions in general could work, but said if they were applied they must be done in a "measured way to induce a change of behavior" and coupled simultaneously with efforts to engage the two states in dialogue.
"In all these issues, dialogue is indispensable," he said.
Earlier it was reported that diplomats said on Monday Iran is expanding its uranium enrichment program.
The diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to divulge the information to media, told The Associated Press that within the past few weeks Iranian nuclear experts had started up a second pilot enrichment facility.