Baradei poohpoohs Bolton's nuke scare
Syria says UN nuclear inspectors welcome
It looks like those pesky "diplomats" are upsetting Baradei and the State Department with their wacky allegations. ("diplomat can only mean John Bolton, who has been riding this dead horse for months) Baradei, who is leading the investigation into the Khan nuclear ring insists that nothing points to Syria having nuclear weapons and claims the "diplomat's" evidence is fishy. I guess Baradei is tired of being bullied by ideologues, who don't care whether they are right or not. Louis Charbonneau of Reuters is getting the dust up.
"The Syrians told me they would be happy if we go and verify whatever we need to verify," International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei told reporters on Saturday during a flight to Moscow for a four-day official visit. "But we haven't gotten any piece of information on why we should be concerned about Syria."See Gordon Prather's article, "Casus Belli: High-Pitched Whine."
Last week, diplomats told Reuters that the IAEA considered Damascus a top candidate for being the fourth customer of the nuclear black market that supplied uranium enrichment technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.
But ElBaradei said no country had provided any hard evidence that would implicate Syria as a customer in the black market set up by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's atomic weapons programme. "This is something I read in the paper. Nobody came to us with any information (about Syria)," ElBaradei said. The IAEA, along with governments and intelligence agencies, has been investigating the details of Khan's network so that it can be dismantled. The results of the investigation are classified.
Syria, which has called for the creation of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, has denied any interest in nuclear weapons.
Last month, diplomats and nuclear experts told Reuters that an experimental high-tech intelligence technique developed by the United States had detected what appear to be operating uranium-enrichment centrifuges in Syria. Diplomats said the centrifuges, which spin at supersonic speeds to purify uranium for use as fuel for power plants or weapons, could only have come from Khan's network. But some U.S. officials -- as well as ElBaradei -- are skeptical about the centrifuges.
"We don't have super high-tech detectors, and if somebody detected something they'd better come to us. We are the ones who can clarify fact from fiction," ElBaradei said.
The China scoop
It seems that China was trying its hand at diplomacy in Shanghai several days ago and sought to arrange a meeting between Asad and the Israeli minister, Olmert, who was visiting at the same time. Haaretz has the story. Asad packed and went home. I guess China will have to try something other than jack-in-the-box diplomacy. It's a start though.