United Nations nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei, who overseas the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) struck a heated debate with Israeli ambassador Israel Michaeli Thursday. Michaeli accused the UN official of bias dealing with Syria’s nuclear probe during a meeting of IAEA’s 35-member board. ElBaradei, an Egyptian, dismissed Israel’s claims, calling them “totally distorted”.
The IAEA has criticized Syria for preventing proper inspection of its weaponry facilities and withholding documentation, but has also chided Israel for not informing the UN before it bombed the presumed Syrian nuclear facilities to pieces in 2007. ElBaradei told the Israeli Ambassador, “You, sir, did not allow us to do what we were supposed to do under international law… you are not even part of the (non-proliferation) regime to tell us what to do. We would appreciate that you stop preaching to us.”
Israel has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, one of three countries yet to sign the international treaty, and the only one in the Middle East. The IAEA stated in its latest report that it had indeed discovered unexpected traces of uranium at a research reactor in Damascus, the second site in Syria where significant quantities of uranium were found.