Several former senior officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency have accused the current IAEA chief of a pro-Western bias and relying too much on uncorroborated information.
According to the British daily The Guardian, Robert Kelley, a former U.S. weapons scientist and head of the IAEA action team on Iraq at the time of the U.S.-led invasion, and Hans Blix, a former IAEA director general, are among the former officials that have raised concerns about the agency’s current credibility.
Yukiya Amano took the helm of the IAEA in 2009 with the support of the West and especially the United States. Since that time, the nuclear disputes between Western countries and Iran have steadily proliferated, and most recently the latest IAEA reports have even triggered talk of a military attack on Iran.
In its latest report, the IAEA expressed concern over possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program and maintained that it has reliable evidence that shows Iran has at some point carried out certain tests in connection with nuclear weapons.
The Islamic Republic condemned the report, saying the allegations are baseless, and it accused Amano of following orders given by the United States and Israel. The Guardian report indicates that several former IAEA officials agree with such an evaluation of Amano’s actions as the head of the international nuclear watchdog.
Kelley, a former U.S. weapons scientist, says: “Amano is falling into the Cheney trap. What we learned back in 2002 and 2003, when we were in the run-up to the war, was that peer review was very important, and that the analysis should not be left to a small group of people….”
He adds: “So what have we learned since then? Absolutely nothing. Just like [former U.S. vice-president] Dick Cheney, Amano is relying on a very small group of people, and those opinions are not being checked.”
In a statement to The Guardian, an unidentified former IAEA official has echoed Kelley’s concerns about the changes in IAEA management since Amano took over, saying: “There has been a concentration of power, with less diversity of viewpoints.” He added that the advisors recruited by Amano all share his approach to Iran.
Former IAEA chief Blix warns that there is a big gap between “unverified information” and “evidence”, and the IAEA, as a credible organization, must not base its reports on “unverified” information.
The IAEA has avoided reacting to the criticisms because it has to stay away from public debate. However, some Western diplomats have defended Amano, with one of them citing his statement: “I don’t have 100% certainty, but it makes no sense saying nothing until a smoking gun is visible.”