GLOBAL ECONOMIC VIEWPOINT
MILITARY STRIKE WOULD WORSEN IRAN NUCLEAR CRISIS; IT'S TOO SOON TO CALL IRAN COOPERATION A 'PATTERN OF TRANSPARENCY'
Mohamed ElBaradei is the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. He spoke with Global Viewpoint editor Nathan Gardels in Switzerland last week.
Global Viewpoint: What would be the consequences of a U.S. or Israeli military strike on the Iranian facilities suspected of producing nuclear fuel or weapons?
Mohamed ElBaradei: We currently have a diplomatic process going on between Iran and the European Union in which the Iranians have pledged to suspend any reprocessing or enrichment activity, although they still insist enrichment is their right for peaceful purposes under the NPT (Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons).
Iran has accepted inspections. So far, we haven't seen any nuclear material that could be used in weapons. We haven't seen any effort at weaponization. So, we are making progress.
Rather than talk about military strikes, the U.S. should put its full weight behind this process. It can't succeed without the Americans.
What would a military strike accomplish? The Iranians already have the technology and know-how to make a weapon. A strike would thus only drive that underground, where we can't monitor it, induce Iran to not comply with the IAEA and make developing a nuclear weapon an Iranian national priority.
The Israeli strike on Iraq's Osirak reactor wasn't a success. That reactor was subject to IAEA verification. After it was hit, Iraq just launched a big underground, more determined and secret nuclear program. (This program was dismantled after the first Gulf war -- ed.) Diplomacy and dialogue is the only realistic course.
Global Viewpoint: Iran is cooperating, as you say. What further action on its part would make you finally confident it is not pursuing a weapon?
Mohamed ElBaradei: They are on the right track. There was a period in which we weren't getting the information or access we asked for. Things have changed.Now Iran is cooperating. What we need is continuing transparency. So the answer is: transparency, transparency, transparency. Only full transparency will instill confidence.
Global Viewpoint: During the buildup to the Iraq war in the U.N. debates, the world was suspicious of Saddam because there was a documented “pattern of deception” in which the worse was imagined. Is it too soon to say that in the case of Iran there is “a pattern of transparency”?
Mohamed ElBaradei: It is too soon to say that. We don't see deception now with Iran, but I wouldn't yet say they have established a pattern of transparency.
(c) 2005, Global Viewpoint