ElBaradei has nothing to hide, says IAEA spokesman
VIENNA: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei has nothing to hide, his spokesman said on Monday after reports that the United States was spying on him because it felt he was too soft on Iran and wanted an excuse to oust him from office.
“We work on the assumption that one or more entities may be listening to our conversations,” IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said, adding that the agency had nothing to hide.
Iran accused Washington of violating international law by allegedly listening in on telephone calls between ElBaradei and Iranian diplomats. Government spokesman Abdollah Ramazanzadeh claimed the conversations did not merit bugging, given that nothing secret was discussed with ElBaradei.
He said that it was not the first time that the US has violated international rules, adding that “we would expect those people who spend their time accusing other of breaking international law to respect it themselves”. The US wants the IAEA to report Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions over what Washington says is its covert nuclear weapons programme. ElBaradei says that the “jury is still out” on whether or Tehran’s programme is peaceful.
The Egyptian diplomat, 62, also earned the ire of Washington by questioning US intelligence on Iraq. The Bush administration opposes a third term for ElBaradei in 2005 as IAEA chief, claiming that heads of international organisations should not serve more than two terms, as ElBaradei will have done by next year. A US official claimed that a draft copy of the September IAEA report was given ahead of time to the Iranians, so they could suggest changes to it, a claim echoed by a diplomat from another IAEA member state. afp