Iran Not Developing Nukes & Not "Imminent Threat" El Baradei

Scoop, Independent News
15 February 2015

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Iran is not engaged in nuclear weapons research, and not an "imminent threat" requiring military action, according to Mohamed El Baradei, former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation.

"Anybody who is calling for a military solution for the Iranian issue is crazy, because you will get a much worse situation than what you have," Mr. El Baradei said.

"Nobody today is vouching that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. I think even the U.S. intelligence [agencies], as you probably know, say that Iran stopped any nuclear weapons research -- assuming that they had done that -- in 2003," he said.

"That still continues to be the assessment of the U.S. intelligence agencies, all the intelligence agencies. No, there is no imminent threat that requires" military action.

Mr. El Baradei made the remarks during a presentation here in Bangkok on Monday (February 11) at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand.

Mr. El Baradei, an Egyptian, won became a Nobel laureate in 2005, and left the IAEA in 2009.

In his presentation, Mr. El Baradei warned, "a computer error...might lead us to get into a nuclear holocaust.

"Or, God forbid, some of these extremist groups get their hands on a nuclear weapon or even a powerful radioactive source. They [extremists] have no return address, and deterrence for them has no meaning. They are ready to die, anyway."

He criticized double standards imposed by countries which already possess nuclear weapons.

"Some countries are keeping their weapons, and telling everybody else: 'You cannot even touch the knowledge of nuclear technology'," he said.

"Why do we continue to believe that we can continue to rely on nuclear weapons, and be surprised that other countries will eventually go and get them?

"How you could have a system that is sustainable that is based on, 'Some are more equal than others'? I mean, it doesn't work."

He is "not optimistic" about current proliferation.

"All the weapons-states are modernizing their nuclear weapons."

As a result of their continual upgrading, "you invite other countries -- or in areas of conflict, if they are squeezed -- to try to go for nuclear weaponry. That's also a worry.

"The more nuclear weapons states you have, the more the odds that they will be used," Mr. El Baradei said.

"I'm trying to say we need to rush into nuclear disarmament."

Israel secretly possesses a nuclear arsenal even though the Jewish state refuses to confirm it, he said.

"I think that everybody takes it that Israel has a nuclear weapons arsenal. I cannot vouch for it because during my time of the agency [IAEA], we did not inspect.

"Israel is not party to the nuclear proliferation treaty. They keep this policy of ambiguity. But still, everybody takes it that they do have it."

Instability on the Korean peninsula could result in a nuclear war, but similar dangers exist throughout the world, even in America, he said.

"You don't know where the fault line is going to be. You worry that you don't have a good command and control system in certain areas, where you see the government is not in full control.

"Where you have a regime that is paranoid that it could come under attack -- like North Korea -- you worry about it. But at the end of the day, you worry about every country that operates nuclear weapons, even in the U.S.," he said.

"Mistakes do happen in the best systems, so you worry about all of them."

Nuclear bombs will hopefully not be used during the current fight over Ukraine, because senior leaders on all sides know the horrors such devastation can cause, he said.

"Ukraine, of course right now, nobody talks about that. But you do not want the conflict to escalate have NATO and you have Russia," which are both capable of launching nuclear weapons.

"You do not want to see any escalation that anybody would think of using nuclear weapons [because of Ukraine]. And I don't think, at least hopefully, either NATO or Russia are thinking in that direction. They understand the implications of that."