ElBaradei slams Western allegations against Iran and opposes sanctions

by Abbas Edalat (source: CASMII)
Thursday, September 3, 2009

In an interview with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Dr Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who will retire later this year after 12 years in his post, has slammed Israel, US and EU allegations against Iran as “crazy” and has categorically opposed sanctions.

The US and its European allies who have illegally supported the development of a massive nuclear arsenal by Israel, have accused Iran--whose nuclear programme, as a signatory of the Non Proliferation Treaty, is under the inspections of the IAEA--of pursuing a nuclear weapons programme.

The problem, however, for them is that the most intrusive inspections ever conducted by the IAEA on a member state has not found a shred of evidence of a weaponzination programme in Iran. In its regular reports since 2003, the IAEA has repeatedly and consistently asserted that there has not been any diversion of declared material into illicit nuclear activity in Iran. In fact, even the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of the US intelligence organizations has ruled in its latest report in December 2007 that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons programme.

Yet, despite its initial pledge for a change in the US behaviour, the Obama Administration has followed precisely the same policy of deceptive propaganda, distortion of facts and threatening language that President Bush conducted against Iran. Prodded by Israel and the neo-conservatives, the US and its European allies have now threatened the country with severe sanctions if it refuses to bow down to the western pressure to halt its legitimate enrichment programme by the end of September.

In the past few years, ElBaradei has frequently rebuffed and mocked attempts by Israel, US and EU to portray a false and alarming picture of Iran’s nuclear programme. He has described the proponents of such propaganda as “neo-crazies”. Asked in this latest interview if Iran is keeping its nuclear programme purely civilian oriented, ElBaradei has replied:

“Nobody is sitting in Iran today developing nuclear weapons. Tehran doesn’t have an ongoing nuclear weapons program. But somehow, everyone in the West is talking about how Iran’s nuclear program is the greatest threat to the world. In many ways, I think the threat has been hyped.

"Yes, there’s concern and Iran needs to be more transparent with the IAEA. We still have outstanding questions about some of the research they’ve conducted, and we still need to verify that there aren’t undeclared activities taking place inside of the country. But the idea that we’ll wake up tomorrow and Iran will have a nuclear weapon is crazy. We just haven’t seen any indication of that.”

Opposing recklessly false propaganda against Iran has had its price and Dr ElBaradei has been the target of regular abuse by the Israeli lobby and the neo-conservatives. In the interview, he describes this as follows:

‘That’s not a popular position. Supposedly, I’m politicizing the evidence. About Iran, I’ve been told, “Mind your own business; you’re a technical plumber.” And yet, at other times, on other matters, I’m told that I’m the custodian of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty—sometimes by the very people who tell me to mind my own business when it comes to Iran. I don’t put much stock in either designation. I’m neither the custodian nor the plumber; I’m merely someone who is trying to do his job and be successful. And I know the world won’t be successful in achieving nuclear disarmament unless there’s an equitable nonproliferation regime in place that deals with the root causes of proliferation such as poverty and violence. So I tell our member states, “If you want the agency to do a good job at stemming proliferation, you have to work on the root causes.” That’s not politicization; that’s looking at the big picture.’

In his last three months as head of the IAEA, Dr ElBaradei has also stood to speak out loudly and categorically against sanctions. Asked what lessons he has learned from his experience with Iran, Iraq and North Korea, he has said:

“One lesson is to keep the dialogue going—particularly in the case of North Korea. There, whenever a dialogue was taking place, things were on the right track. Whenever the dialogue stopped, things started to go bad. Now, two nuclear tests later, we have no choice but to talk to the North Koreans and understand where they’re coming from.

"Another lesson is not to use sanctions. As we saw in Iraq, sanctions only deny innocent civilians food and medicine, resulting in some of the most egregious human rights violations I’ve ever seen—all in the name of democracy and rule of law. So we should try very hard to establish an ongoing dialogue, because sanctions are never a solution.”

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You can download and read the full text of the interview with Dr ElBardei here: http://thebulletin.metapress.com/content/f5805r640g517758/fulltext.pdf