10 Questions For Mohamed ElBaradei

Does every nation have a right to possess nuclear technology? Benjamin Figueroa SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
Every country has the right to nuclear technology as long as they use it safely, peacefully and in a secure way.
Countries trying to develop nuclear weapons argue that other nations already have them. Why not have those nations destroy their stockpiles first? Ivan Dimson, everett, WASH.
We have to work in parallel. Those who do not have nuclear weapons should not have nuclear weapons. Those who have nuclear weapons should disarm. Otherwise, we will have more and more weapons and the odds that they will be used, accidentally or intentionally, are much higher.

Do you believe that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) could have done more to stop Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons? Memi Sofer, BEERSHEBA, ISRAEL
We are not sure that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. The jury is still out. What we know is that there are still a number of questions that Iran needs to clarify. I fully support Barack Obama's initiative to engage in a comprehensive dialogue to build trust.

Why, at times, do the agency's opinions seem to have been "bought" by the U.S.? Stephen R. Caudill, ATLANTA
Every country has tried to use the agency to implement its policy goals. On my watch, at least, the U.S. has not bought any IAEA conclusions or opinions. The U.S. was vehemently opposed to my reappointment.

What were your most satisfying and least satisfying moments at the IAEA? Chella Pandyan, MUMBAI
I think the most satisfying moments were when I saw lives saved--children suffering from cancer, for example, treated through radiotherapy machines provided by the agency. The most dissatisfying moment of my life, of course, was when the Iraq war was launched. That hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives on the basis of fiction, not facts, makes me shudder.

How do you guarantee that a country is using nuclear power properly? Waheed Akberzie SIMI VALLEY, CALIF.
We can provide as much guarantee as we have the legal authority, the resources and the technology to do so. If the international community wants to have ironclad inspection guarantees, they better give us the wherewithal.

Israelis long rumored to have had nuclear weapons. Why are all other countries in the Middle East being threatened with military action if they try to pursue that technology? Mostansar Virk, DETROIT
The security situation in the Middle East is totally messy. Israel claims it needs nuclear weapons as a deterrent against any threat to its existence. The Arab world in return feels that this is an imbalanced system; there is a sense of humiliation and impotence. The solution is to address the root causes: the Palestinian issue, peace and security in the Middle East and elimination of all nuclear weapons in the region.

What, if anything, would you say has been a bad judgment call on your part? David Darvish GREAT NECK, N.Y.
I should probably, before the Iraq war, have screamed and howled harder and louder to prevent people from misusing the information that was made available by us.

What world leaders do you believe are on the right track as far as nuclear policy goes? Amy Sandberg CAMBRIDGE, MD.
Obama, who is changing the conventional wisdom, who is saying that we have to have a security system that does not depend on nuclear weapons. President [Dmitri] Medvedev from Russia. Gordon Brown. These people have finally come to realize that the status quo is a recipe for self-destruction.

What suggestions would you give your successor? Luyolo Mkonto, JOHANNESBURG
You need to be fully impartial. You need to always speak truth to power. Because what he or she does here in many cases makes the difference between war and peace.

Source: Time