IAEA Director General’s Appearance Before U.S. Senate a Major Error in Judgment

This decision by Director General Yukia Amano to appear before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to testify on Iran’s nuclear program is regrettable, but it is also not surprising. Amano has been consulting with the U.S. Government on a regular basis ever since his appointment as Director General. This is well documented.

The dramatic change in the language of IAEA reports after Amano took over from Mohammad el-Baradei (whom the U.S. tried to kick out of office until he won the Nobel Peace Prize) shows the direct influence of the United States and Israel trying to indict Iran for nuclear weapons activity. Amano’s directorship resulted in a sudden eruption of meaningless, tortured weasel-word language about “not being able to verify” that Iran was “not” engaging in technology that might lead to military activity. This language contradicted every previous report under previous directors Hans Blix and el-Baradei.

But in the end the IAEA in every report issued under Amano verified that Iran had “not diverted fissile material for any military purpose.”

Amano has simply been a tool of U.S. officials bent on making hostile accusations toward Iran, looking for “expert” evidence to support their specious claims. Specifically, the agency’s tortured language has been twisted by U.S. opponents of an accord with Iran to bolster their claims that Iran was making nuclear weapons–claims that, despite the Amano-influenced IAEA reports — remained utterly unsubstantiated by any evidence anywhere.

It is also noteworthy that Amano expressed confidence that his office could carry out the inspections activities mandated by the accords. Thus he was caught in a bit of a bind–seeming to imply that Iranian activities were suspect and “unable to be verified as peaceful” and at the same time asserting the effectiveness of his agency–and his leadership–in carrying out the inspections. So which is it? Is the IAEA capable or incapable of carrying out its duties under his leadership? Honestly, I think Amano needs to step down. He appears to have lost all credibility as an independent administrator of his agency.

I have no doubt that Amano’s testimony continued the mealy-mouthed, but not-quite-definitive support for attacking the Vienna accords favored by President Obama’s detractors, and those who still want to bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran.

William O. Beeman is a Professor, Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota. During 2013-2014 he will be a Visiting Scholar at the Department of Anthropology, Stanford University. Read other articles by William, or visit William's website.