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N-deal: 2 arms control experts flay IAEA chief
Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC | June 15, 2006 23:50 IST
Two of the America's leading non-proliferation and arms control experts, have launched a scathing attack on the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Dr Mohamed ElBaradei for his support of the US-India civilian nuclear agreement.
One of them, Leonard Weiss, former staff director of the US Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and the chief architect of the US Non-proliferation Act of 1978, went as far as to insinuate that ElBaradei's continuing endorsement of the US-India nuclear deal was a case of the IAEA chief being on the defensive and trying at every turn to appease the US in the wake of Washington's failed campaign to scuttle his re-election bid after he castigated the US military action in Iraq on the pretext of Saddam Hussein developing weapons of mass destruction that were never found.
ElBaradei on June 14, in an op-ed article in The Washington Post titled 'Rethinking Nuclear Safeguards', argued that unless "creative, out of the box solutions" were found, "the international nuclear safeguards regime will become obsolete".
"The US-India agreement is a creative break with the past that, handled properly, will be a step forward for both India and the international community," he wrote. "India will get safe and modern technology to help lift more than 500 million people from poverty, and it will be part of the international effort to combat nuclear terrorism and rid our world of nuclear weapons."
Weiss, currently a senior science fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University and a consultant to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said, "First, let me say that I have a great deal of respect for Mohamed ElBaradei. I've known him for many years and I was certainly opposed to the very strong US push to try to get him removed from his post -- or not re-elected in any case."
"It was a political fight which we (the US) lost, but it was one which I am sure had an effect on him," Weiss added.
Thus, he argued, "You cannot divorce the statements he's making about the US-India agreement from his relationship with this administration that occurred as a result of his very courageous stand on Iraq."
Weiss, who was participating in an event organised by the Federation of American Scientists to release a letter it had sent to the US Congress, signed by 37 Nobel laureates, opposing the US-India nuclear deal, alleged that when ElBaradei initially came out in support of this agreement, his staff were shocked and many people on his staff are known to be opposed to this agreement because they do not believe that it actually has the appropriate non-proliferation protections in it.
Michael Krepon, co-founder and president emeritus of the Henry L Stimson Center -- the only Washington think tank with an exclusive confidence building measures programme on South Asia, who also participated in the FAS briefing at the National Press Club, said, "Mr ElBaradei's number one job right now is not to carry the Bush administration's water on this deal, but to negotiate the best possible safeguards agreement that will help bring us to the end state that he's talking about."
"The agreement is not just about nuclear energy for commercial purposes. It also provides for and allows for a big buildup in India's nuclear weapons stocks," he argued.
"If this agreement goes through as the administration would like, a significant set of constraints on India will be removed. So I have a serious problem with Mr ElBaradei wandering off in support of this agreement without doing his primary duty, which is to come to us with a tough safeguards agreement in perpetuity that guards against negative outcomes," Krepon said.