By JAMIE ROMM
With Tuesday marking the first day of Yukiya Amano's tenure as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Israeli experts had some advice for the man succeeding Mohamed ElBaradei after 12 years.
Ephraim Asculai, a Senior Research Fellow for the Institute for National Security Studies, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that as director general, Amano could take his policies in any direction he chooses.
"ElBaradei refrained from putting the blame on Iran or Syria or indicting them," Asculai said. "He should have put the burden of proof on them, and he didn't do that."
Asculai said that while ElBaradei started off well in 1997, the last few years were a big negative.
"The first part [of his tenure] was very good, when he withstood the pressure in the case of Iran, and that was a very good performance," Asculai said. "However when it got closer to the uranium question and later, to the Syrian question, I think he was very, very lenient with them, I didn't think he wanted to indict them. I think he wanted to give them every chance in the world to announce the program was for peaceful purposes, which is something you cannot do because proving a negative cannot be done."
Gerald Steinberg, the chairman of the Political Science Department at Bar-Ilan University and executive director of NGO Monitor, told the Post on Tuesday that Amano needs to learn from ElBaradei's errors, and quickly.
"He should learn from the mistakes of the prior director general in trying to avoid conflict by covering up evidence of cheating, which did tremendous damage and took credibility from the IAEA. The new director general is going to have to repair that damage quite quickly by focusing on Iran," Steinberg said.
Asculan said Amano should remember that he is not a political figure, but rather has to do a very difficult technical job.
"The last report of ElBaradei concerning Iran was a much better report than from his entire tenure, in that he refrained from any statements that could be misconstrued; it was a purely technical report," Asculai said. "This is the way it should be. The judgments should be left to the Security Council. The director general should be writing technical reports to be submitted to his Board of Governors and the Security Council."
Steinberg said that final report, which blasted Iran over its Qom enrichment facility, was a case of "too little, too late" and an admission of failure on ElBaradei's part.
"One of the things Amano has to do is check within the IAEA structure, and find the people who made [misguided] recommendations to ElBaradei - recommendations to avoid conclusions that Iranian actions demanded years ago. He must make sure that those people are not involved anymore in this kind of process," Steinberg said. "He's going to have to make decisions and take risks, which ElBaradei avoided until it was too late."
Asculai said that every director general brings his own culture, rationales and personal inclinations.
"Probably the one thing that he will bring with him as someone from Japan is an abhorrence of nuclear weapons, and perhaps that will push him to tackle the possibility that members of the NPT are producing or proliferating a nuclear development program," Asculai said. "But let's remember that he cannot really fight himself, for he does not have any powers to execute anything. He can only recommend."
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