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.”

 

60 killed in suicide bomb attack on Yemen army camp

Libyan forces corner IS fighters in last Sirte holdouts

18 killed in suicide attack in Iraq oasis town

Tunisia's new unity government takes office

In Saudi city of Najran, Huthis commit war crimes with indiscriminate rockets

3 Saudi children killed in Yemen cross-border shelling

Turkey's bombings kill civilians in northern Syria

Iran arrests 'nuclear spy'

Egypt frees renowned rights lawyer, Malek Adly

Libya forces launch ‘final battle for Sirte’

Dozens killed as Turkey ramps up unprecedented offensive in Syria

Iraq officially asks Saudi Arabia to change ambassador

Yemen government cautiously welcomes US peace plan

Yemen shelling kills three-year-old boy in Saudi border region

Turkey sends more tanks into Syria to bolster military offensive

Turkey arrests former top diplomats over failed coup

Tunisia swears in new premier after approval from parliament

Israeli troops shoot dead Palestinian in occupied West Bank

11 Turkish police officers killed in Cizre bomb attack claimed by PKK

French court suspends burkini ban

Tears as evacuation starts in Syria's Daraya

Turkey PM denies Syria operation singling out Kurds

Kerry, Lavrov meet for talks on Syria

Tunisia parliament to vote on cabinet proposal

Kuwait arrests govt employee promoting IS online

Turkey shells Kurdish fighters in Syria after warning

Oil prices fall on Saudi doubt on output cut

Jeddah meeting bears no fruit on Yemen conflict

Kerry in Saudi for talks on regional conflicts

UN Syria envoy expects 'impact' from Kerry-Lavrov meeting

Iraq parliament votes to impeach defense minister

Russia says will cooperate in Syria chemical attacks probe

Iraq forces take key town south of Mosul

Hamas to leave name off ballot in Palestinian elections

Iranian navy in 'unsafe' intercept of US destroyer

Three wounded in PKK attack on Turkey opposition chief's convoy

Erdogan to inaugurate Istanbul's third Bosphorus bridge

China to train Syrian troops

Turkey reinforces ground forces across border into Syria

Turkey says 'every right' to intervene if Kurds fail to withdraw

UN rights chief urges international probe of Yemen violations

Tunisia unity government to remain unchanged

Raped teen who took own life finally gets justice in Morocco

Syria rebels backed by Turkey tanks 'seize' Jarabulus

Libya's presidential council to present new cabinet