IAEA BECOMING TOO POLITICIZED. Interview with Uzi Arad, Adviser to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee
Cooperation between Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) members and non-member nuclear powers was one of the key issues discussed at the forum on preventing nuclear catastrophe in Rome. Uzi Arad, Adviser to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, told Gazeta correspondent Polina Khimshiashvili about relations between Israel and the IAEA, Israel's recent attack on the atomic plant in Syria and prospects of a peaceful settlement to the Middle East crisis.
- If we believe the information published by U.S. intelligence agencies at the beginning of this year, on September 6, 2007 Israel's military forces destroyed a secret atomic plant in Syria. Why did Israel not request IAEA inspection of the plant before attacking?
- I would like to note that we received information on the attack from U.S. intelligence agencies. Israel does not confirm the fact of bombing. However, if the attack really took place, the whole operation was executed at the highest level: clearly, fast, accurately and very effectively. The answer to why we did not submit our request to the IAEA was given by one of the experts who attended the workshop in Rome: it is impossible to rely upon the efficiency of IAEA actions against a country (Syria - Gazeta) that is led by a non-transparent regime, does not obey the terms of the NPT and does not abide by the resolutions of the UN Security Council on Lebanon.
- Do you believe in the IAEA's efficiency and ability to alleviate tension resulting from the Iranian programme?
- The agency brought discredit upon itself over the course of seven years when it could not manage to discover that a nuclear complex was being constructed in Syria. The reasons for which we do not cooperate with the IAEA nor adhere to the NPT are obvious. First of all, most of the countries that signed the NPT proceeded to violate its norms. Lebanon and Iraq did, and Iran is doing so now. The agency has become too politicized, and the more it is politicized, the worse it works.
- In May Israel's government announced the beginning of peace talks with Syria. How is the process going and can we expect positive results in the near future?
- If, even after the liquidation of the nuclear plant, Syrians were prepared to negotiate with Israel, that indicates that in general the attack had a small impact on the current situation in the region.
I believe that it is too early to speak about any outcome of these negotiations. It is important for the parties to begin a dialogue that can lead to a stage of straight bilateral negotiations. The discussion points are too serious and sensitive for both parties, and a lot depends on the position of the Israeli government and its readiness to compromise, first of all regarding the Golan Heights. I would like to note that today two-thirds of Israelis are against retreating beyond the line of 1967.
- Last week Ahmed Qurei, head of the Palestinian group negotiating with Israel, declared that the parties are close to signing a peace treaty that could be signed by the end of 2008. Is that the case?
- The discussion is being kept secret. None of us involved in it can say anything specific. I am skeptical about predictions that we will soon have a treaty. I see two possible outcomes. The first is that we really will sign an agreement, but it will be incomplete and define only general directions. Therefore, after it is signed it will have to be amended significantly. The second possibility is that we will receive a more or less complete agreeement, but it will probably not reflect the most pressing issues. And I still do not believe that we will sign a complete, detailed and comprehensive document in the near future.
Currently Advisor to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, Director of the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya (Israel).
From 1997 to 1999 - foreign policy advisor to former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
From 1975 to 1997, Uzi Arad served in the Mossad national intelligence agency of the State of Israel and was promoted to Director of Intelligence.
Born on October 2, 1947, in Tiberias (Israel).