Today's date:
Spring 2005

Iran: Not Yet A Pattern of Transparency

MOHAMED ELBARADEI is the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. He spoke with NPQ recently.

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 United States 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.

Iran for the moment is 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. Only full transparency will instill confidence.

We don't see a pattern of deception now with Iran, but I wouldn't yet say it has established a "pattern of transparency" either.