Former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Hans Blix (file photo)
A former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency has challenged a report delivered by the IAEA in November on Iran’s nuclear activities, pinpointing that the agency receives unverified intelligence, mostly from the US and Israel.
In an exclusive interview with Qatar-based news network, Al Jazeera, on Saturday, Hans Blix stated that the IAEA received information from a variety of sources, mostly from the United States and Israel.
“My view is that they must assess it very carefully and critically because otherwise they can be pulled by their noose,” he asserted.
“I remember from inspections in 2002 and 2003 that there was a famous document that allegedly to be a contract between Iraq and Niger for the import of yellow cake of uranium oxide quoted by [former US] President [George W.] Bush in his State of the Union message. The IAEA had it for one day and concluded that it was a forgery. [Former IAEA head, Mohamed] ElBaradei then announced it was not authentic. That shows how careful you have to be,” Blix stated.
The UN nuclear agency’s current Director General Yukiya Amano issued a report on November 8, accusing Iran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear energy program.
Iran dismissed the report as “unbalanced, unprofessional, and prepared with political motivation and under political pressure mostly by the United States.”
Tehran argues that, as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the IAEA, it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
The IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities, but has never found any evidence of diversion in the country's nuclear activities.
Regarding the Western hype over Iran’s Parchin military site, Blix said, “They (the inspectors) have been there several times,” adding, “Parchin is a military site with thousands of buildings. Any country would be reluctant to let international inspectors go anywhere near their military sites.”
“In a way the Iranians have been more open [about their nuclear activities] than most other countries would be,” he added.
Blix also questioned the Israeli warnings of Iran’s bid to build a nuclear bomb, saying according to Tel Aviv, Tehran should have had a nuclear bomb a long time ago.
“If you ask the Israelis, it (the Iranian nuclear bomb) is just around the corner all the time, but they have said that for years, so I think one ought to be a bit cautious about it,” he said.
The former IAEA chief further criticized Tel Aviv’s rhetoric regarding a potential bid to launch a strike on Iran.
"When I hear [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu saying it’s not a question of days or weeks, but also not years, I think that sounds like a terrible threat," he said.
Israel, always vociferous in its accusations against Iran’s nuclear energy program, is itself widely known to possess between 200 and 400 nuclear warheads. Tel Aviv, however, refuses to allow its nuclear facilities to come under international regulatory inspections and rejects all the regulatory international nuclear agreements.
Blix also called on the Western powers to alter their “menacing” and “threatening” attitude toward Iran so that the standoff over Tehran’s nuclear energy program might be resolved.
“Very frequently I think the western world has been unwise in the way they treat Iran. They say that Iran must behave itself as it were a minor they were talking to” Blix said, adding that they should not expect Tehran to "kneel" before them as this is “a hopeless way” of arriving at an agreement.
Blix further called on the Western states to support Iran’s bid to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) and assist the Islamic Republic’s civilian nuclear program.
The former IAEA chief also condemned the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, describing such acts as “terrible” and “counterproductive” as they “blur the border between civilians and combatants.”