The International Atomic Energy Agency is not only neglecting its duties of preventing nuclear proliferation, but acting as an obstacle to those trying to preserve the status quo, the Foreign Ministry's Director-General Aharon Abramovitch said on Monday. Addressing the Saban Forum in Jerusalem Abramovitch said the UN nuclear watchdog provides an excuse to states that prefer not to join the international community's efforts to prevent a nuclear Iran. Israeli officials believe the head of IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei is not forceful enough in the periodic reports he presents to the UN on the Iranian nuclear program. By stressing Iranian cooperation with the inspectors and the need for more time, Jerusalem believes that Elbaredi is playing into Iranian hands. The IAEA chief has also come under sharp US criticism over moves that Washington sees as appeasing Iran - particularly a deal he negotiated for Teheran to explain outstanding questions over its nuclear program. He defended the strategy in an interview with the state-run Egyptian daily Al-Ahram as a test for Iran to "show good intentions." "This situation, which might continue for two or three months, is an investment in peace," said Baradei. He warned that the standoff between the West and Iran over the nuclear issue was adding "more fuel to a burning fire" in the Middle East. "The area is going through one of its worst moments and we cannot add more confrontations." "In my opinion, what we should do now is to encourage Iran to cooperate because any attempt to isolate Iran ... means the hard-liners will take over the driver's seat," he said.