Christopher Dickey, Newsweek Paris Bureau Chief and I’m proud to say my friend of many years, was one of the few reporters granted an interview with Mohamed ElBaradei. The entire post appears on Chris’s wonderful blog, The Shadowland Journal,
What I’m trying to do is put a stop to this madness…
Nobel Peace Prize Winner ElBaradei
Dickey: What do you think Iran wants out of all this?
ElBaradei: Iran wants to get the best from its own perspective. Obviously it wants to get the maximum technology, and not just nuclear. Reactor technology is key for them. They want IT, all the modern technology, Airbus, Boeing. They need the technology to modernize. And I think they understand that the fuel cycle enables them to be part of the big boys club, and it’s a smart insurance policy, if they can get that, because again it sends a message to their neighbors. Iran wants to be a major player in the whole Middle East which is being reshaped right now. …I don’t want to speak for them, but they also would like to normalize their relationship, ultimately, with the US. Their dialogue with Europe is a bridge toward their ultimate normalization with the US. So these are the things that I guess are on their agenda. But I can’t speak for them.
So, again, when you talk about the nuclear program in Iran you are talking about regional politics, regional security – global politics, global security. So, you will have the European agenda, the American agenda, the Iranian agenda, the neighbors agenda, the Israelis, the Arabs. Everybody is affected by how this dialogue between Europe and Iran will play out. I think everybody understands that it is not just the nuclear issue, it is the whole future of the Middle East, it is the whole future of regional security, global security. That’s why it makes it more difficult, and that’s why it takes time, and that’s why people should be patient. As long as they are talking, I’m comfortable. As long as the fuel cycle is suspended, as long as they are making progress, keep at it.
Dickey: The Europeans are sounding very pessimistic these days. It’s very hard to see in the current environment how the Americans are going to offer security guarantees and a face-saving solution for this Iranian regime.
ElBaradei: The number one threat for the entire world is weapons of mass destruction. I’d rather assure our security first, and then I’ll worry about all the other issues: legitimizing regimes, democracy, human rights. If we do not have global security it might be too late to think about any of these issues. So unless I have defanged all the potential proliferators or terrorists or what have you I will not have a chance to discuss these other issues. It’s a question of priorities.Dickey: What is the risk that talks will collapse and we’ll be looking at a breakout, Iran just walking away from the table and the treaty.ElBaradei: I am still hoping that at the end of the day, with all the posturing, nobody can afford a confrontation. Confrontation is a lose-lose proposition. … You might see some hiccups in the process, some delays in the process, but I think we need to keep at it.
Dickey: At the end of the day, do you think Iran will become a virtual weapons state?
ElBaradei: [long sigh] What I’m trying to do is put a stop to this madness…
Whatever controversy may abide over Elbaradei receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, thoughtful people who are concerned for the safety of their species will find there was no better choice.