by Bennett Ramberg
Renewed international efforts to reign in
International awareness that Syria poses a nuclear threat emerged only in September 2007 when it is believed that Israeli aircraft destroyed the nuclear plant under construction in the country's remote northeast desert.
The attack generated a surprisingly muted response from
THE SEPTEMBER 2009 meetings of the agency's 35 nation Board of Governors and the General Conference - the annual conclave of the IAEA's entire membership - sustained growing apprehensions about Middle East nuclear proliferation but focused on Israel to abandon its program. The General Conference only gently rapped the knuckles of
The statement reflected a "coaxing" strategy - repeated requests that nuclear transgressors provide transparency and eliminate contraband - that has become the agency's trademark to constrain violators. The approach builds on the hope that calibrated calls for openness can prompt transgressors to feel more comfortable with revelation. However, too often the response is otherwise. Violators throw a few bones followed by agency demands for more. The dance repeats but never comes to a satisfactory non-proliferation conclusion.
In a time line provided by
Following the attack, the IAEA attempted to get
IN FOUR reports published by the agency since 2007, Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei repeatedly called upon an "uncooperative"
In the months to come the IAEA will have an opportunity to strengthen its policing function, with a new director-general in December followed in May 2010 with the important NPT Review Conference that convenes every five years. The meeting offers an opportunity for attendees to press the Security Council to authorize the IAEA to be more assertive with nuclear violators. The practice is long overdue.
Bennett Ramberg served as a State Department policy analyst during the George H.W. Bush administration and as a consultant to the US Senate, Rand, Nuclear Control Institute,
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