Sunday, December 02, 2007

ElBaradei Calls for Diplomacy with Iran

Juan Cole published the following document on his Informed Comment blog on Friday, November 30. I have excerpted the relevant Iran quotes below.

'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 boldfaceClarin (Internet Version-WWW)
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Document Type: OSC Translated Text

(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.

(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.

No comments: