Israeli officials traded barbs with the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Mohamed ElBaradei, who heads the United Nations nuclear watchdog group, came out Sunday against Israel’s reported air strike in Syria last month.
Many independent analysts believe Israeli warplanes destroyed a nuclear reactor being secretly constructed by the Syrians, though Damascus denied having such a project. Israel has not given details on the operation.
“If countries have information that the country is working on a nuclear-related program, they should come to us,” ElBaradei told CNN’s “Late Edition.”
“But to bomb first and then ask questions later, I think it undermines the system and it doesn’t lead to any solution to any suspicion.”
The IAEA, which asked Syria for its account on the site that was apparently bombed, received no information indicating there was a reactor there, ElBaradei said. He also reiterated his view that there is insufficient evidence that Iran’s nuclear program aims to produce warheads.
The remarks drew an angry reaction Monday from Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s minister for strategic affairs.
“It seems that the proof ElBaradei wants is a nuclear mushroom cloud that everyone can see in the sky. Short of that, no evidence will suffice for him, apparently,” Lieberman told Israel Radio.
He suggested that the Egyptian-born ElBaradei “feels some kind of obligation to the Islamic world” but also decried reluctance in some parts of Europe to tackle Iran’s nuclear program.
“It reminds me of the dialogue Chamberlain conducted with Hitler,” Lieberman said.