Thursday, February 26, 2009

Israel launches campaign against UN nuke watchdog chief

Israel wants UN inspections of Iran and Syria nuclear power sites, but refuses UN inspections of their own sites.
They are not signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and so they don't have to, they say.

Because Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei won't say and do what Israel wants him to so they can attack and destroy Iran and Syria, they have decided to try to get rid of him. They simply can't have a rational, thoughtful person in his position.
Israel's Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) recently intensified its attacks on the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei. The AEC, one of the most classified bodies in Israel that is also, among other things, responsible for operating the Dimona nuclear reactor, does not often issue public statements, and usually plays down its activities. But in recent months, given the IAEA director's actions relating to all aspects of Syria and Iran's nuclear programs, the committee decided, with the consent of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, to stop tiptoeing around the issue.

The AEC now hurries to respond to ElBaradei's interviews, in which they feel he speaks of Israeli in critical tones. The latest expression of this new policy is a letter to be published this week in the latest issue of the American weekly magazine, Newsweek, written by the AEC spokeswoman Nili Lifshitz. Lifshitz is leaving her post at the end of the week after years on the job to assume a different position in human resources at the Nuclear Research Center (NRC, the Nahal Sorek nuclear reactor, which the AEC also oversees). But she does not hesitate to criticize the IAEA director sharply.

According to her, ElBaradei, "failed in his attempts to persuade Syria to allow visits by IAEA inspectors to three sites in Syria with suspected links to Syria's confidential nuclear program." She charges: "Even the IAEA director's attempt to arrange for a true investigation into Syria's efforts to obfuscate and cover up the evidence at the site bombed in September 2007 failed". She says: "Syria hustled the building rubble and dirt from the site so that it would not be possible to uncover what was built there and what was going on".

The AEC spokeswoman stressed in her letter that the suspicion is that Syria set up a North Korean-made nuclear reactor at the site, an action that is contrary to its agreements with the IAEA. She said (without providing examples) instead of focusing on these issues, ElBaradei has deemed it appropriate to denounce and criticize the State of Israel. "Unfortunately, this has become typical behavior on the part of the IAEA director," Lifshitz wrote, "as part of his efforts to divert attention away from his failed attempts to arrange for a fitting and appropriate investigation given the accumulated information and proof that Middle Eastern states are clearly violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty."

Soft on Iran Israel's pointed criticism takes on a special significance against the backdrop of the most recent IAEA report and a briefing on Syria and Iran for reporters presented by a senior agency official. The report and the briefing presented additional evidence that the bombed site in Syria was built as a nuclear reactor resembling one in North Korea. The IAEA report also rejected Damascus' claims that the uranium traces found at the site were from the missiles that destroyed the structure, i.e., that they are part of the Israeli Air Force's armaments.

The letter to Newsweek follows a previous letter also sent by the Israeli AEC to The Wall Street Journal in response to another ElBaradei interview. In that interview, he also claimed that Israel, like Iran, is not cooperating with his organization, and in so doing attempted to draw a parallel between the two countries.

ElBaradei, an Egyptian legalist and veteran diplomat who has been affiliated with the United Nations in general for over 35 years, has been considered for many years to be a "red flag" by the AEC. He is perceived by senior AEC officials, which is responsible for contacts with the IAEA, as someone not known for his pro-Israel views, to put it mildly. According to diplomatic and defense officials in Israel, ElBaradei was negligent in handling all matters relating to the Iranian nuclear crisis. In reports he wrote, which were written in soft, evasive and conciliatory language, he allowed Iran to evade over the course of six years its commitments according to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and its agreements with the IAEA. The United States was also not overly pleased with the IAEA director.

About four years ago, the Bush administration tried to bar his reelection to the post, but failed due to the tremendous support for ElBaradei from the bloc of Third World countries, with the backing of Russia and China. As a result, for years, Israel, even though it was not satisfied with ElBaradei's handling of the job, had to act diplomatically. Israel was hesitant about openly airing its reservations and tried to maintain favorable ties with him, and keep up a professional working relationship.

ElBaradei visited Israel more than four years ago, met with the leaders of the AEC, visited the Nuclear Research Center, but was not permitted to visit Dimona, because Israel (unlike, for example, Iran and Syria) is not a signatory to the NPT and therefore is not obligated to allow international oversight of the Dimona reactor. Nevertheless, in recent months, as noted, the policy has shifted prompted by the AEC director, Dr. Shaul Horev, and with the approval of the prime minister. Presumably, the attacks are coming due to the report that ElBaradei will leave his position at the end of the year and be replaced by a new director, with representatives from South Africa and Japan vying for the spot.

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