Home inContext The IAEA’S Syria Snafu

The IAEA’S Syria Snafu

Michael Sharnoff

Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said Saturday that Israel’s bombing of a Syrian nuclear reactor in September 2007 “violated international law.” In a January 2009 interview with Newsweek, ElBaradei further insisted that Israel should have provided the IAEA with intelligence on the reactor before resorting to force.

ElBaradei, however, lacks the authority to judge Israel’s actions. He undermines the IAEA’s credibility as a non-partisan, impartial nuclear watchdog. Article III section C of the IAEA statute says, “the Agency shall not make assistance to members subject to any political, economic, military, or other conditions incompatible with the provisions of this Statute.” In short, ElBaradei strayed from his job description, which is finding nuclear weapons.

It is also notable that ElBaradei’s IAEA had no prior knowledge of the Syrian reactor Israel destroyed. Last November, a full 14 months after the Israeli raid, ElBaradei finally confirmed that the Syrian site contained traces of uranium. However, he never condemned Syria for its illicit nuclear reactor. Rather, he claimed that Syria did not intend to produce bombs, and even suggested that other states provide Syria with nuclear aid.