Elbaradei: An Attack on Iran would Guarantee that it Gets Nukes

The USG Open Source Center translates an interview in an Argentinian newspaper with International Atomic Energy Agency head, Mohamed Elbaradei, on how to deal with the Iranian nuclear research program. He cautions that a direct military attack would almost guarantee that Iran develops an atomic bomb.

Argentina: IAEA Head Warns Against Using Force Against Iran
“Exclusive” interview with Mohamed ElBaradei, International Atomic Energy Agency head, by Nestor Restivo in Buenos Aires on 28 November: To use force against Iran could lead it to having atomic weapons. First paragraph is Clarin’s introduction. Passages within slantlines are published in boldface
Clarin (Internet Version-WWW)
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Document Type: OSC Translated Text

“I hope that what was done in Iraq will not be repeated. We have all learned a lesson and /I hope with all my strength that the situation in Iran will be resolved diplomatically.”/ Egypt’s Mohamed ElBaradei, who is now in Buenos Aires and gave an exclusive interview to Clarin yesterday afternoon, is at the center of a storm and is working against the clock. ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is supervising the Iranian (nuclear development) plan, and he is also under pressure from the United States and its allies to harden his stance toward Tehran. Both the United States and Israel have sharply attacked the IAEA report on Iran.

(Nestor Restivo) /Washington was highly critical of you and of UN inspector Hans Blix when you both denied that Saddam Husayn had weapons of mass destruction. Then the United States invaded Iraq. Is this is a similar scenario?/

(Mohamed ElBaradei) In both cases it is our duty to work with objectivity. I hope that there is no parallel (between these two cases) and that we have all learned a lesson. Despite all of our differences, I do believe that everyone sees a single solution for Iran: diplomacy.

(Restivo) /But you know that the military option is on the table…/

(ElBaradei) That would not solve anything. On the contrary, it would delay the Iranian plan but in the end it would not produce a lasting solution and would generate more problems in a region that is already a huge mess, the Middle East. There is no 100 percent guarantee, but we also do not have data indicating to us that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. But we do need an additional protocol about its new facilities.

(Restivo) /Is it helpful for the United States or Israel to be talking about a military option? Why would Iran allow more inspections if they (the facilities inspected) might eventually become military targets?/

(ElBaradei) Diplomacy has more to do with pressures, sanctions, and incentives for good behavior than with force. It used to be said that diplomacy was war waged by other means, but that ended with the UN Charter, which only allows war for self-defense, in the case of an imminent threat, or if the Security Council approves it. The use of force would put pressure on Iran to manufacture nuclear weapons, while right now it does not have large industrial facilities in operation. What Iran has is a nascent and small nuclear enrichment plan. But when a country is threatened it generally ends up with a military system.

(Clarin) ElBaradei, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, a man who is highly respected in international diplomacy, arrived in Argentina yesterday. Here he met with President Nestor Kirchner and Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana and praised Argentina’s nuclear development program. In the morning he also spoke with three of the media, including Clarin.

(Restivo) /Will there be more in-depth inspections in Iran?/

(ElBaradei) Yes, of course. Iran is a very complex case. For 20 years it developed a secret program and that made the IAEA’s work very difficult, as we said in our report. I have insisted that they act with the utmost transparency and cooperation as there has been a loss of confidence in the nature of the program. And that is the key: the crisis of confidence. The most sensitive issue is uranium enrichment, for with enriched uranium it is possible to produce nuclear materials.

(Restivo) /Is Mahmud Ahmadinezhad’s government on that course?/

(ElBaradei) We have not found that to be so, but we do not have a 100 percent guarantee. The fact that Iran is working actively on enrichment shows that they do have a program, but they do not have an urgent need as they still do not have a nuclear product. Of course the Iranians say that they should be self-sufficient and independent, that this is a scientific and civilian issue, a matter of technological development, and that this is for exports that could benefit them in the future. But if the IAEA cannot conduct inspections of Iran and prove that all of this is intended for peaceful uses, the crisis of confidence will continue. Nobody is questioning Iran’s right. The problem is the timing (previous word in English) for exercising that right.

(Restivo) /What role is the Security Council playing in this? Neither China nor Russia will agree to new sanctions against Iran…/

(ElBaradei) The Security Council has asked Iran to suspend its enrichment program until confidence has been restored. And I have done the same. The more they cooperate and allow us access to documentation and other things, the more we will be able to rebuild confidence. We need what is known as the Additional Protocol, which would give us additional information and access to new sites. This is essential so that we can not only look at the past but also say that “we are now in a position to provide guarantees about the current projects.” The Security Council should ask and apply pressure on Iran in order to get it to agree to negotiate and to make it realize that a permanent solution will only come through negotiations.

(Restivo) /Do you have confidence that this will happen?/

(ElBaradei) Yes, tomorrow negotiators from Iran and the European Union are meeting and I am optimistic. The nuclear issue has been a troublesome matter between the West and Iran for 50 years, since the fall of the elected government in Iran in 1953 until now. And not only the West and Iran should be involved in this dialogue, but other countries as well, countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine. The sooner some agreement is reached, the sooner we will see prospects for an ideal solution.

(Restivo) /Some US officials like Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice have taken a very tough stance toward you. How do you handle those pressures?/

(ElBaradei) The IAEA’s function and its reports are highly technical. But we are also a multinational agency. And diplomacy and multilateralism are two sides of the same coin, so in addition to technical matters I also make use of diplomacy, I try to convince, argue, apply pressure, and use persuasion. Of course, my diplomacy is limited to dialogue, as there is no army behind it. I am indeed the target of pressures, but as long as you know that you have your feet on the ground and are sure of what you are doing, pressures are like Teflon; they do not stick. Moreover, I have gotten used to this, as we have been criticized by Saddam, by Korea, and now by Israel. We deal with extremely sensitive issues and we have to be very careful that we are not pushed in any direction. Everyone listens to us with great attention. This does seem rather schizophrenic, doesn’t it? Governments hire us, but at times we make a judgment about them and it is difficult for them to accept the fact that, even though they are paying us, we can still judge them.

(In another report in Spanish on 29 November La Nacion’s Paz Rodriguez Niell and Lucas Colonna add: “ElBaradei and Kirchner reviewed the Argentine nuclear plan for peaceful uses and agreed that the tense situation in the international community about Iran’s nuclear development, which right now is drawing the world’s attention, should be resolved in a peaceful manner.

“‘All countries should cooperate to find a peaceful solution for Iran. I had a meeting with Kirchner, and we agreed that a solution based on negotiations must be found,’ said ElBaradei.

(La Nacion) /”What is your assessment of Argentina’s nuclear agenda?/

(ElBaradei) “Argentina is the only country in the region that has developed the complete nuclear fuel cycle and that is in a position to export nuclear technology, like the reactor that was sold to Australia, which is very pleased with it. Argentina may play a significant role as a possessor of this technology. It could be part of this possible rebirth of nuclear energy, and Argentina and Brazil may be in a position to cooperate by supplying nuclear fuel.

(La Nacion) /”How would you explain the case of Iran?/

(ElBaradei) “Iran is a complex case. For 20 years it developed an undeclared nuclear program underground. The IAEA has told Iran that it should behave with greater transparency about its project because people do not have confidence in the nature of its nuclear program. There has been progress, but we still need additional information. If a country has a nuclear enrichment capability, it is in a position to have the elements needed to produce nuclear weapons. Until the agency is in a position to say that everything in Iran is under its control and oversight, this lack of confidence will continue to exist.

(La Nacion) /”Venezuela has expressed its support for Iran’s nuclear development program and is promoting that position in this region. Does that transform it into a country about which additional safeguards need to be applied in nuclear matters?/

(ElBaradei) “Many of the non-aligned nations say that Iran has the right to proceed with uranium enrichment. Nobody is questioning Iran’s right; the problem is the moment it has chosen to exercise that right. It does not bother me if any country has a nuclear development project, provided that it is conducted under an IAEA inspection and verification program. It does draw our attention when a country has an enrichment program, for that could provide it with the technological capability to develop nuclear weapons. Venezuela has no reactors. It has a right to have them, provided that they are under this agency’s supervision. I see no reason to worry about that.”)

(In another report in Spanish on 29 November Clarin’s Natasha Niebieskikwiat adds: “Official sources told /Clarin/ that in Buenos Aires ElBaradei discussed the characteristics of the report that he has just presented to the IAEA Board of Governors, which speaks of the existence of /progress in Iran’s cooperation/ in shedding light on its nuclear program. Although the sources consulted stated that the government had merely noted this, it is known that a distinction is made here between Argentina’s bilateral conflict with Tehran over the attack on the AMIA (Argentine-Jewish Mutual Association — for which international arrest warrants have been issued for a handful of former Iranian officials — and Iran’s nuclear development program. Argentina is a country with a high level of nuclear development, so it is quite sensitive to any restrictions in this field.

“In speaking with the press yesterday, ElBaradei told /Clarin/ that he agreed with President Kirchner that a solution needs to be found for the entire Middle East situation, a solution based on /’negotiations, equity, and justice.’/

“The IAEA official also reported that he had offered Planning Minister Julio De Vido assistance from IAEA experts in monitoring the safety levels of Atucha II. CNEA (National Commission for Atomic Energy) technical personnel have reported that this plant, which is still under construction, uses a design and technology that are antiquated and even obsolete, and which are not in compliance with the international regulations that were put in place after the Chernobyl tragedy in 1986.”)

(Description of Source: Buenos Aires Clarin (Internet Version-WWW) in Spanish — nationalist, tabloid-format daily; highest-circulation newspaper.) ‘

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