'Relations have improved since you replaced elBaradei'

Peres praises new IAEA head Amano during Beit Hanassi meeting.

311_Peres and Amano (photo credit: Mark Neiman\GPO)
311_Peres and Amano
(photo credit: Mark Neiman\GPO)
Yukiya Amano, the director-general of the UN’s Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, came in for high praise on Wednesday from President Shimon Peres when the two men held a working meeting at Beit Hanassi.
Relations between Israel and Amano’s predecessor Mohamed elBaradei were strained, and Amano’s low-key visit as the guest of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission is seen in some quarters as the beginning of a more positive chapter.
Peres declared that since Amano had taken over in December there had been an essential change.
“We feel a greater sense of professionalism, objectivity and fairness,” the president said.
Peres emphasized the importance of having a person at the helm who all sides regarded as dependable and capable of differentiating between good and evil, and between those forces that were trying to dupe the international community and those who were not.
He was glad to be able to speak to Amano in a friendly spirit, he said.
Peres underscored the signal threat that Iran posed to Israel and the world. He was absolutely convinced that Iran would not hesitate to use to use nuclear weapons in its quest for regional hegemony.
Iran’s nuclear program could not be separated from the nature of its administration, Peres insisted, citing as he has done so often, the anti- Israel statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, specifically his constant denial of the Holocaust and his frequent calls for Israel’s destruction.
There was no precedent for Ahmadinejad’s behavior in the world of diplomacy or in the international community, said Peres.
Peres reminded his guest that in 62 years of statehood, Israel has been under ongoing assaults and terrorist attacks that have resulted in seven wars plus numerous other armed conflicts. “In this context, we are not like other states,” he said.
Amano outlined the IAEA’s long- and short-range policies and objectives, in particular those that relate to Israel, and expressed satisfaction at what he had seen and heard during his intensive three-day visit, which wound up on Wednesday afternoon.
He said he was particularly impressed during his visit to Hadassah Medical Center, to observe Israel’s progress in nuclear medicine, which was a fine example of how nuclear energy could be used in the service of peace.