Archive for June 17th, 2009

“ElBaradei: IAEA lacks sufficient funding, legal authority to combat proliferation”

“ElBaradei: IAEA lacks sufficient funding, legal authority to combat proliferation”
June 11-17, 2009
     Mark Heinrich reports that IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei scolded the agency’s board of governors for failing to agree on a budget, saying a lack of sufficient funds has led to the “bastardization” of the agency. In a closed-door meeting, ElBaradei said that tight funding has hampered the agency’s work in areas including the prevention of clandestine nuclear programs. The governing body is requesting an 11% budget hike (Reuters).
     In an interview, ElBaradei blames failures in the area of nuclear disarmament for the proliferation of “virtual” nuclear weapons programs that allow states to develop weapons quickly. He also cites Israel’s nuclear program and status outside the NPT for costing the non-proliferation regime its legitimacy in the Middle East, arguing that this prevents states like Iran from implementing the Additional Protocol to provide the IAEA with sufficient legal authority.
     ElBaradei strongly criticizes efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear technology and praises recent changes in US policy. He urges Tehran to respond to the US, apply the Additional Protocol, and freeze expansion of enrichment in exchange for a freeze on sanctions. ElBaradei expresses hope for negotiations but believes they will take time, calling Iran’s nuclear program a “symptom of lack of security…[and] of competition of power and ideology between Iran and the US” (Der Standard).
     In another interview, ElBaradei restates his belief that Iran is seeking a nuclear-weapons capability in order to be recognized as a regional power and deter foreign threats, adding that the contrasting cases of North Korea and Iraq demonstrate the current advantages of obtaining nuclear weapons (BBC). Alan Cowell points out that ElBaradei’s remarks are “more dramatic and less hedged with diplomatic caveats than previously” (New York Times).
Reuters | Der Standard | BBC | New York Times

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“Russia, China congratulate Ahmadinejad, discuss new economic order”

“Russia, China congratulate Ahmadinejad, discuss new economic order”
June 16 & 17, 2009
     At a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) held in Russia, the leaders of Russia and China congratulated President Ahmadinejad on his reelection. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov declined to criticize the ongoing election controversy, instead expressing hope for future bilateral relations (Reuters). Chinese President Hu Jintao said Beijing was satisfied with its growing economic and trade relations with Tehran and called for continued progress, particularly in the energy sector (Xinhua).
     According to the Associated Press, Beijing and Moscow are seeking “greater international clout,” with the former promising a $10-billion loan to SCO members and the latter proposing alternative global reserve currencies to the dominant US dollar (Associated Press). Addressing the summit, Ahmadinejad declared that the US was “overwhelmed by economic and political crises” and stated that Iran, which is an observer member of the SCO, is willing to cooperate with the organization to supplant the current economic order (Daily Times). The Russian and Chinese presidents also met with the leaders of India and Brazil at the first formal summit of the BRIC group, where they called for a “more diversified” global monetary system. Andrew E. Kramer cites predictions that the BRIC group may eventually overtake the West in economic productivity and power (New York Times).
     Uwe Klussmann writes that Moscow views Iran as a potentially stabilizing factor in Central Asia, citing the possibilities of reconstruction aid to Iraq and Afghanistan and negotiations with Hezbollah and Hamas. Iran is also an important customer for arms and nuclear technology, and Klussmann writes that unlike the US and the EU, Moscow views current protests in Tehran as a threat rather than an opportunity (Spiegel).
Reuters | Xinhua | Associated Press | Daily Times | New York Times | Spiegel