First Published: 2009-11-05

 
ElBaradei: Iran deal could change Mideast
 

IAEA chief says aggressive Western conditions partly to blame for Iran's refusal to cooperate.

 

Middle East Online

'You cannot bomb knowledge'

NEW YORK - Many of the Middle East's most intractable problems could be solved if a deal for Iran's nuclear program is reached, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency said Wednesday.

"Iran could be the door to a stable Middle East," International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei told a think tank in New York.

"I think it's very clear if we succeed on that, it would open the way, finally, to a new era, when Iran and the US... can work together," ElBaradei said at the Council on Foreign Relations, listing Iraq and Afghanistan as two areas where Iran could play a hugely constructive role.

He said there was "a unique opportunity. I see it (for) the first time..., a genuine desire on both sides to seriously engage."

However, ElBaradei warned this optimistic scenario depended on Iran signing up to the proposed deal and on Western powers sticking to diplomatic dialogue.

If Israel were to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities that would "turn the Middle East into a ball of fire," he cautioned.

ElBaradei said "we have no indication, no concrete proof, that Iran has an ongoing nuclear weapons program."

ElBaradei noted that the nuclear push is motivated by Iran's desire to be taken seriously in the region and to be an international partner.

"Iran's program is an effort to force regional recognition of its power," he said. "They believe the nuclear know-how brings prestige, brings power, and they would like the US to engage them."

The IAEA chief, who will soon step down, said that overly aggressive Western conditions were partly to blame for Iran's refusal to cooperate with the international community over its nuclear program.

"There's a lot of mistrust," he said.

And he warned categorically against a military strike against Iran.

"I have been saying for many, many years right now that this is no solution at all," he said. "The maximum is that it will delay the program for two years. You cannot bomb knowledge. All it would do is get Iran... to go on a crash course for nuclear weapons."

He said that Iran had huge potential as a constructive regional player, but "can do a lot of damage in that region."

On a broader note, ElBaradei said that the current basis for nuclear non-proliferation, in which the atomic weapons club is restricted to a handful of countries, is unsustainable.

Citing the widely reported existence of an undeclared nuclear arsenal in Israel, he said, "You cannot have a security system that is not perceived to be balanced."

"The only solution is to rid the whole Middle East of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons," he said.

Likewise, if the United States or Russia want credibility in ridding smaller countries of nuclear weapons, "you have to create an environment in which, in my view, nuclear weapons are regarded in the way we regard slavery or genocide."

ElBaradei had warned against repeating the processes against Iraq with Iran.

“I will always lament the fact that a tragic war was launched in Iraq, which has cost the lives of possibly hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians," he said.

"This was done on the basis of false pretext, without the authorization from the Security Council and despite the Agency and the United Nation monitoring, verification and inspection commission having found no evidence that Iraq had revived its nuclear weapon program or programs involving other weapons of mass destruction," he added.

"It gives me no consolation that the Agency’s finding was subsequently vindicated.”

 

US, Arab allies unleash deadly strikes against IS jihadists in Syria

New Gaza truce talks set for end of October

Libya parliament approves Thani’s cabinet lineup

Arab Bank found liable for backing terrorism

Qatar ‘will not host’ 2022 World Cup: Blame it on temperatures!

Israel kills 2 Palestinians suspected of murdering three teens

Bahrain sets November 22 date for parliament vote

Kuwaiti acquits 67 stateless protesters

French PM: 'No discussion' with Algeria hostage-takers

US-led strikes target IS jihadists in Syria

World leaders confront crises on many fronts at UN

Kurds slow jihadist advance on key border town in northern Syria

Mossad launches new website to recruit potential spooks

Saudi second Crown Prince: We must protect our youth from ‘forces of darkness’

Australia to join US-led air campaign in Iraq

Freed to be rearrested: Palestinian prisoners plan hunger strike

Lebanon describes abuse of Syria detainees as ‘isolated incident’

Abadi opposes foreign ground intervention in Iraq

Algeria army eliminates ‘terrorist chief’ in Kabylie region

Huthi rebels hold key Sanaa offices after hard-won peace deal

Better safe than sorry: EU boosts security after jihadist threat

Iran conducts arrests over ‘SMS Khomeini insults’

Rouhani: Iran cornerstone of stability in Mideast

4 Saudis sentenced to death in 'bloodiest terror' cell

Australia’s Howard 'embarrassed' US intel on Iraq WMD unfounded

IS urges Muslims to kill citizens from US-led coalition

Over 130,000 Syrian Kurds flee to Turkey

South Sudan peace talks resume in Ethiopia

Iraq loses communication with soldiers near Fallujah

Palestinians intensive diplomatic campaign on three fronts

Rival Yemen groups sign UN-brokered deal

US discusses IS militant threat with arch-foe Iran

Turkey's PKK urges fellow Kurds to fight IS jihadists in Syria

UN warns over 'forcible transfer' of Palestinian Bedouin

Syria denies use of chlorine chemicals

Court verdict paves way for release of activist Mahienour el-Massry

IS fighters lay siege to Syria Kurdish town of Ain al-Arab

Huthi seditious plans come out in open: Capture of government HQ in Sanaa

Israel steps up cyber-defense with new national body

Egypt military aircraft crashes after technical failure

Erdogan confesses: Turkey held ‘diplomatic negotiations’ with Islamic State

Pope denounces Islamic State: Religion cannot be used to justify violence!

Solution according to Huthis: Deal in Saada and battles in Sanaa

Bloody attack strikes outside Egypt Foreign Ministry in Cairo

Mediators denounce ‘senseless fighting’ in South Sudan