On Monday, IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei gave an interview to Le Monde (Paris), translated below.[1]  --  In it, ElBaradei said he had no information whatever indicating that there was really a North Korean nuclear reactor in Syria.  --  With respect to Iran, he commented that "All our intelligence services are in agreement" that "supposing that Iran wanted to equip itself with the nuclear bomb, it would still need between three and eight years to do it," meaning that there is no immediate threat in Iran that could justify an attack.  --  "I want to discourage people from thinking that Iran is an immediate threat ('sera une menace dès demain'), and that we now find ourselves before the question of knowing whether it's necessary to bomb Iran or let it have the bomb.  We are not at all in that situation." ...

1.

[Translated from Le Monde (Paris)]

MOHAMED ELBARADEI THINKS "IRAN IS NOT AN IMMEDIATE THREAT"
By Natalie Nougayrède

Le Monde
October 23, 2007 (posted Oct. 22)

http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0,36-969665,0.html

* What's the status of Iran's cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), about which you have to report in November? At the U.N., Russia has blocked any new sanctions against Tehran till then. Could it be prolonged?

It's been several months now since Iran said it was ready to discuss with us the still unanswered questions (on its nuclear program). This corresponds to a demand made by the U.N. Security Council several years ago, and is at the heart of our mandate: to clarify the unanswered questions, which means to be able to say that the past and present activities of Iran are "clean."

That'll take some time, because it's a matter of having access to people, documents, and facilities. We're not naive. We don't think that we're giving Iran the chance to drag things out. Before the end of November, I have to submit a judgment on Iran's seriousness, on the question of whether it is acting in good faith or not. This is a decisive test for Iran. If they miss this opportunity -- and I told them this -- then the international community will say: we were right not to have confidence in Iran.

This is a crucial phase. Will I be able to finish the process in November? I'd like to. But it might last until December. To take two, three, or four weeks more for a process that's already lasted for years is not the problem.

* Your approach has been criticized by some Western officials who see in it a lessening of pressure on Iran, while it continues its nuclear work. Paradoxically, couldn't the risk of a military scenario be increased thereby?

You don't talk about the use of force when all diplomatic means have not been exhausted. Now, we still have a lot of time to use all the tools of diplomacy, including sanctions, dialogue, all the "carrots" and all the "sticks" we have. I cannot judge intentions, but supposing that Iran wanted to equip itself with the nuclear bomb, it would still need between three and eight years to do it. All our intelligence services are in agreement on that.

I want to discourage people from thinking that Iran is an immediate threat ("sera une menace dès demain"), and that we now find ourselves before the question of knowing whether it's necessary to bomb Iran or let it have the bomb. We are not at all in that situation. Iraq is a spectacular example of the fact that in many cases the use of force exacerbates the problem instead of resolving it.

* What comment do you have about the air raids Israel carried out in Syria on September 6? According to the American press, these strikes were aimed at sites where a nuclear reactor was being constructed with equipment that came from North Korea. Are these reports well-founded?

At the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), we have received zero, and I emphasize "zero," information that goes in that direction. We have contacted the Syrians, as well as foreign intelligence agencies. We've said: if one of you has the slightest information showing that there were elements tied to nuclear matters, obviously, we would be happy to investigate it. I dare hope, frankly, that before people start bombing and using force, they will come to see us to say what they're worried about. We would then have made an on-site verification inspection. We have no indication showing that this is nuclear. So long as we receive no information going in this direction, we can't do much.

* In following North Korea's nuclear activities so far, have you found the slightest indication of a link or of transfers in the direction of Syria?

We have no information of that kind. Concerning North Korea, we were the first to go in 1992 to the U.N. Security Council to say that there was something problematic about that country. We don't hide facts. But in order to act with authority, we have to have information.

* How has this Israeli military action in Syria affected, in your opinion, the Iranian nuclear matter?

I should really know -- soon, I hope -- what exactly happened in Syria. Some have a tendency to talk a little quickly about the use of force, waving around this idea of "just war" or "preventive war." The U.N. Charter pronounces clearly the specific cases in which force can be authorized: in a case of self-defense when faced with an imminent attack, or when a collective decision is taken by the U.N. Security Council if it thinks that international peace and security are threatened.

That's why, when it's a question of using force without any explanation, I get very worried. I hope to obtain an explanation [about the raid in Syria], indicating in particular in what way it was a case of self-defense. I don't know. Is there a relation to nuclear matters? Is there a connection with Iran? These are important questions. I'll add one more thing. When the Israelis destroyed Saddam Hussein's nuclear research reactor in 1981 (Osirak), the consequence was that Saddam Hussein moved to a secret program. He began to implement a massive military nuclear program, "underground." The use of force can set back the clock, but it doesn't deal with the roots of the problem.

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Translated by Mark K. Jensen
Associate Professor of French
Department of Languages and Literatures
Pacific Lutheran University
Tacoma, WA 98447-0003
Phone: 253-535-7219
Web page: http://www.plu.edu/~jensenmk/
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