WASHINGTON (JTA) — The top U.N. nuclear proliferation official refused to take a position on whether Israel should exist as a Jewish state.
In an interview with the Washington Post published Sunday, Mohammed ElBaradei argued for establishing trust between the West and Iran, blaming both sides for inflaming rhetoric.
ElBaradei, who directs the International Atomic Energy Agency, likened a positive outcome to such talks to Japan, a country that runs the full nuclear technology cycle without international opprobrium, "because there is trust that this country is not aiming to develop nuclear weapons." The interviewer challenged him, noting that Japan does not advocate the destruction of another country, as Iran does with Israel.
"There have been a lot of offensive statements, frankly, on the part of Iran, although from what I understand, Iran wants a one-state solution — not, as reported in the media, that Israel should be wiped off the map," ElBaradei responded.
That, the interviewer noted, would end Israel’s status as a Jewish state.
"I’m not taking sides on that," ElBaradei replied.
ElBaradei endorsed the call by President Obama for direct talks with Iran. ElBaradei said Iran was violating agreements by enhancing its nuclear cycle and blocking inspections, but that he had no evidence of a nuclear weapons program since 2003.
He also expressed anger with Israel for bombing a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in September 2007; Israel should have presented its information to the IAEA, which would have launched inspections.
"I have been very harsh on Israel because they violated the rules of international law on the use of unilateral force, and they did not provide us with the information before the bombing, which we could then easily have established whether Syria was building a nuclear reactor," ElBaradei said. "To that extent, the blame is also shared with the U.S., who sat on the information for a year and six months after the bombing."