The head of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency said in a speech in Israel that taking Iran to UN Security Council may exacerbate the situation, because the Council may not act. ElBaradei said Israeli Prime Minister committed himself to the vision of a Middle East free of nuclear weapons. RadioFarda Newsroom - July 8, 2004 - “You are running the risk that the Security Council might not act and therefore the situation would exacerbate. And you run the risk that Iran might opt out of the NPT (nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) and you have another North Korea,” director-general of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohamed ElBaradei said in a speech to a group of academics at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
"The prime minister affirmed to me that Israeli policy continues to be that, in the context of peace in the Middle East, Israel will be looking favorably to the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East," ElBaradei said after a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. “It's not a new policy, but affirming that policy at the level of prime minister I thought to be quite a welcome development,” he added.
In the meeting, while ElBaradei pressed Sharon for committing the IAEA plan to rid Middle East of nuclear weapons, the Israeli Prime Minister shifted the focus on Iran’s nuclear program and urged the IAEA for stronger action over Iran’s suspected program to produce weapons-grade enriched uranium.
Sharon said Israel considers Iran and its nuclear program a security threat.
The US and Israel accuse Iran of hiding a nuclear weapons program, and have long called on the IAEA board of governors to refer Tehran to the UN Security Council for posing economic sanctions. Having acknowledged that it has concealed its nuclear program for 18 years, the Islamic government has denied US charges, maintaining that its nuclear program, including uranium enrichment, is not weapons related.
Last year, the Security Council discussed the issue of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program briefly, but took no action, preferring to shelve it in the hope that the US would work out a deal with North Korea.
“North Korea in many ways has revealed the limitations, if I put it in a nice way, of the Security Council,” ElBaradei said. “For a variety of reason, the Security Council was unable to respond ... That's a weakness.”
During ElBaradei's three-day visit to Israel, officials repeatedly turned the focus of attention from Israel’s nuclear arsenal to the threat posed by its enemy Iran.
Director of Israel's Institute of Policy and Strategy and an ex-senior Mossad official Ariel Arad criticized the IAEA for not confirming that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. “Anyone who suggests differently is under illusions," Arad told reporters.
ElBaradei said it was impossible for the IAEA to judge Iran's intentions for nuclear technology that could be used to generate electricity or fuel weapons. The IAEA has said that it can only make judgments on the basis of hard evidence.
"We are not God. We cannot read intentions," ElBaradei said.