Skip to comments.Postwar issues on podium at Tufts (UN Whiner Mohamed ElBaradei Alert)
Posted on 05/19/2003 6:19:14 AM PDT by Lance Romance
Postwar issues on podium at Tufts
By Benjamin Gedan, Globe Correspondent, 5/19/2003
EDFORD - If the United States discovers weapons of mass destruction in Iraq without a United Nations inspections team, the findings could be disputed by other countries, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said in an interview yesterday.
''There would definitely be people who would doubt the conclusion,'' Mohamed ElBaradei, the agency's director general, said before addressing graduates of Tufts University's Fletcher School.
''If they want credible information, it will have to come from an international organization,'' he said. ''That is why it is in the US interest for us to go there.''
ElBaradei delivered the commencement address for 162 graduates of Tufts University's international relations program, who had gathered in a spacious tent on the Medford campus.
UN weapons teams have been barred from Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, while US scientists continue searching for the suspected biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons programs that President Bush cited as a justification for war.
Any American discoveries may be greeted skeptically by the global community, said Hurst Hannum, a professor of international law at the Fletcher School. ''If the US does turn up evidence of weapons of mass destruction, I'm not sure how much the rest of the world will believe them,'' he said.
In prepared remarks, ElBaradei, a soft-spoken former diplomat, repeatedly renewed demands for the reentry of UN inspectors into Iraq. Coalition scientists, he said, lack the expertise, experience, and UN mandate to search for the deadly weapons.
ElBaradei predicted that UN scientists would eventually be readmitted, but not before looters irreparably taint suspected weapons sites and endanger Iraqi civilians with the release of radioactive material.
The return of international inspectors is being negotiated at the United Nations, but several personal appeals have gone unanswered by the US State Department, ElBaradei told reporters.
''We hear that there will be a role for the international inspectors in Iraq later in the day. I do insist, however, that that day should be sooner rather than later,'' he said.
Before the war, UN weapons teams had not uncovered evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq. And American scientists, ElBaradei said yesterday, have made no progress in the search.
''We haven't any evidence that there has been in Iraq any nuclear weapons program,'' he said. ''We still stand by our conclusion before the war.''
ElBaradei's statements, and his speech to students, painted a gloomy portrait of the international system, which he said was experiencing a ''major crisis.''
Criticizing the Bush administration's policy of preemptive war, ElBaradei encouraged dialogue among nations. But in discussing North Korea's stated intention to develop nuclear bombs, he warned the United States not to submit to ''nuclear blackmail.''
Fletcher School dean Stephen Bosworth, the former ambassador to South Korea, agreed that concessions should await an end to the North Korean nuclear program.
''They have to make a move on their nuclear program before they can hope to obtain any external assistance,'' he said. ''Otherwise, it is blackmail.''
ElBaradei also responded to Bush administration allegations that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.
He would not say whether he was being pressured by US officials to criticize the Islamic republic, but pledged to maintain independence in inspections of Iranian facilities.
''People are saying that you have to be tough, that you have to be aggressive,'' he said in the interview with the Globe. ''If there is any pressure, we deflect it.''
Benjamin Gedan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Actually, Dumbass Emeritus, the world is glad Hussein is gone. Even the UN didn't dispute the fact that Iraq has WMD's. The war has been over barely a month. We have other issues to deal with.