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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

ElBaradei Urges Cooler Rhetoric

VIENNA -- International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei urged Western and Iranian leaders Wednesday to "lower the rhetoric" in a standoff over Iran's nuclear work bound for the UN Security Council next week.

"What we need now at this stage is a cool-headed approach, to lower the rhetoric. The Middle East is a very volatile area," he said, as the atomic watchdog's board of governors ended a three-day meeting in Vienna.

Iran and the United States traded tough warnings as the board session drew to a close. A senior Iranian security official warned Tehran could inflict "harm and pain" to match whatever punishment Washington persuaded the Security Council to mete out for Iran's defiance of the IAEA board.

The White House condemned the statement as "provocative." Washington said Iran threatened vital U.S. interests and that it and key EU allies planned concerted steps in the council that "gradually escalates pressure on Iran."