Reuters: The United States voiced irritation on Friday with the head of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog body after he rebuked critics of a cooperation deal with Iran as well as those beating “war drums” against Tehran. By Sue Pleming
WASHINGTON, Sept 7 (Reuters) – The United States voiced irritation on Friday with the head of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog body after he rebuked critics of a cooperation deal with Iran as well as those beating “war drums” against Tehran.
Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, told reporters he was tired of “back-seat drivers putting in their five cents” by criticizing an agreement the IAEA has made with Iran.
Under the Aug. 21 deal, the IAEA and Tehran agreed on a rough timetable for addressing lingering questions about Iran’s nuclear activities.
Asked about ElBaradei’s criticism, which appeared targeted at the United States, State Department spokesman Tom Casey said he hoped the IAEA chief’s words were not aimed at Washington.
“I would certainly hope that those kind of comments would not be referring to the United States. They certainly would not be true,” Casey told reporters.
“I would certainly hope that everyone — Dr. ElBaradei included — would focus on what the real issues are here,” added Casey, referring to Western powers’ demand that Iran give up its sensitive nuclear work.
Tensions have risen in recent months between the Bush administration and ElBaradei, who angered the United States when he said in June that the world risked a war because of “new crazies” pushing for military action against Iran.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has had sharp words for ElBaradei, accusing him in June of “muddying” the message to Iran.
ElBaradei said again on Friday he saw “war drums” being beaten by those who believed the short term solution was to bomb Iran. The rhetoric reminded him of the buildup to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, he said.
The United States is pushing hard for the United Nations Security Council to pass a third sanctions resolution against Iran over its refusal to give up uranium enrichment which Tehran says is for peaceful power purposes and the West says is aimed at building a bomb.
ElBaradei has suggested the push for harsher economic sanctions could unravel the IAEA’s delicate approach to Iran.