Director General Mohamed ElBaradei Interview with Charlie Rose

October 30, 2007

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

ROSE: Welcome to the broadcast. Tonight, Mohamed ElBaradei, Nobel Laureate and the man who heads up the International Atomic Energy Agency, and is dealing with the Iranians about nuclear issues.

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MOHAMED ELBARADEI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, IAEA: I have to give a report at the end of next month. I hope I should be able to give a positive report that they clarified the issues. But the test is, are they transparent enough? Are they - you know, are they cooperative enough? If they are, then obviously, that will work in their favor, but that would resolve part of the problem, which is that Iran, today, is clean. We still have the other part, which is say do we trust Iran´s future intentions? That´s really the major problem the U.S. has and the West has. It´s not what Iran has today; it´s what Iran could have in 10 years.

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ROSE: ...Mohamed ElBaradei is here. He is the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, he found no evidence that Iraq was rebuilding its nuclear weapons program. In 2005, he and the IAEA jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize. He addressed the United Nations General Assembly yesterday, and next month he will report on Iran´s compliance with demands to come clean about its past nuclear research activities. I am pleased to have him back at this table. Welcome.

ELBARADEI: Thank you very much, Charlie, for having me.

ROSE: You are - I should say this, too - you are an avid New York Knicks fan.

ELBARADEI: Absolutely.

ROSE: So you have gone through - you know how to deal with suffering.

ELBARADEI: For at least 25 years now.

ROSE: Let me just start with where we are.


ROSE: In terms of the Iranian question. You have made this proposal that the United States, basically, sets up some demands and answers some questions. Tell me where we are.

ELBARADEI: Well, Iran, we still have question marks about its program. Why do we have the question marks, Charlie? Because they started that program 20 years in a clandestine manner. They´re arguing that we could not have done it otherwise because we are under sanctions. However, the problem for us is to reconstruct 20 years of clandestine work - research, procurement, experiments - and we are going through that. We have done quite a lot in understanding the scope and the nature of the program, but we still have a number of question marks, and therefore, I keep saying, you know, that we cannot give you a pass. We cannot say that your program is kosher until you come, you know, with the necessary documentation we need, the access to individuals, the necessary access to locations. Then we can say Iran today is OK.

But that´s one part of the problem. The other part, that there is a major distrust between Iran and the West, primarily the U.S., that goes at least half a century, since 1953, when the nationally elected government was removed by the CIA, the hostage crisis - there is a lot of distrust, lots of grievances between the U.S. and Iran, and - and shared in many ways by many Western countries, that they see Iranian behavior in the region is not - is not necessarily, you know, the way that ought to be, so.

ROSE: It´s gotten exacerbated by the new president, by the...

ELBARADEI: Of course. A lot of these statements absolutely did not help create any confidence. And so there is a lot of concern, not about Iran today - I mean, we´re still going through the process of cleaning the acts of the past and the present, but the major concern is about should Iran have the technology, the enrichment technology, which means that they can have the nuclear material that can go into a weapon if they walk out of the system. I mean, the scenario goes like this, Charlie, that if Iran were to have the enrichment technology, they would kick the inspectors out, then they would go for a nuclear weapon, and then they would pursue an aggressive foreign policy in the region.

ROSE: That´s the fear of the United States and the West?

ELBARADEI: That´s the fear of the United States and the West. Iran is saying, "that´s not what we are after. We are really looking for independence, self-sufficiency. We would like to have our own fuel, because we were subject to sanction. We would like also to be a commercial partner," because it´s a lucrative business.

ROSE: And they say they´re a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

ELBARADEI: Correct. They have a right. And so, we have - we have on the one hand, Iran saying we have a right; on the other, the West saying, we don´t trust you to exercise that right. Right now, we´re saying, well, you need to adopt a moratorium. In fact, Security Council said you need to take a time out. You need to have a suspension for some years of exercising that right, until we have the confidence that even when you exercise that right, you are not going to manipulate it and use it for nuclear weapons. I think frankly that - I hope that Iran will take a time out, because they don´t really need to go into enrichment today. They don´t need it today, and they have one reactor that´s going to operate soon. They´re getting all the fuel they need from Russia. The argument they have that we need science and technology - sure, but you don´t have to have it today.

ROSE: And they also said they don´t trust contracts.

ELBARADEI: And they also said they don´t trust contracts, but that all means one thing - that you need the pressure, as Security Council is doing, but that´s not sufficient, and that´s what the argument I have been saying all the time. You need to engage Iran. You need - you need to make sure that confidence is not going to be built through sanctions alone. You need to talk to them. You need to put all the grievances on the table. And when you really talk about the nuclear issue, is one part of the whole puzzle of the Middle East, Charlie. It´s Iraq. It´s Afghanistan. It´s Lebanon. It´s the Israeli issue. It´s human rights. You name it. And it´s a question of regional security. Iran would like to - if I can put it differently, it´s a competition between two completely different ideologies, and Iran aspiring to be a major player in the region, and the U.S. and the West fear that Iran might exceed the role they should be playing in the region. And the only way to do that is to go through - sit around a table like this, put all the grievances, reconcile your differences.

And the earlier we go to the negotiating mode, the better for everybody, because I don´t see sanctions alone is going to work. It will hurt Iran. There is no question about it. It will hurt even sometime innocent civilians, as we have seen in Iraq. But sanctions alone is not - is not the solution. It´s a sanction plus. And even the Security Council said, we would like Iran to come into negotiation, because a global grand pact deal is the way to go, a grand deal that deals with security, that deals with economics, sanctions, technology. How do we get into the negotiation? It´s really the knot that we´re still [inaudible].

ROSE: OK, but let me just ask a question that most of us want to know.


ROSE: If the United States says, "stop enrichment and we´ll negotiate"?

ELBARADEI: Yes, that´s correct. That´s, in fact, I mean, I had a long discussion today with Secretary Rice just before coming here, and - and she was very clear that if Iran were to suspend, the U.S. is ready to negotiate.

The Iranians are saying, well, we should not - we do not - we should not stop because this is our right. But I would hope that they will take the time out. They will take a moratorium. Nobody is telling them, give up your right. All the international community is asking them to do is just take a time out for a few months and just get into the negotiation.

ROSE: Why won´t they do that?

ELBARADEI: Well, there is a lot of - there is a lot of I think pride involved, that this is our right. Why should we do it? There is a lot of different views inside Iran as far as understanding.

ROSE: They just changed their negotiator, by the way.

ELBARADEI: They changed their - you know, Ali Larijani, who is their negotiator. So there is a lot going on in domestic politics, also, you know. As you say here, all politics.

ROSE: Is local.

ELBARADEI: Local. That is clear. So that´s a part, and I really would hope and I will continue to talk to the Iranians and urge the Iranians that nobody questions your right, but just take the time out to engage, and get into the negotiation. I believe if you get the Iran-U.S. around the negotiating table, things will move very fast. The Iranian need the U.S. engagement and U.S. needs the Iranian engagement.

ROSE: Let´s just take both of them and what they need to do, OK? The United States wants them to stop enrichment, because they fear with enrichment they´re going to take them to the place where they can, if they want to, make a nuclear weapon.

ELBARADEI: Sure. Sure.

ROSE: Iran says, "why should we stop this? All we want to do is to make it possible to have nuclear power."


ROSE: What should the United States do to come to the table? What are you asking the West to do?

ELBARADEI: I think what I´m asking the West to do is to assure Iran that they are not after, you know, banning Iran from having the right. They have to make it very clear.

ROSE: But haven´t they done that? I mean, haven´t they made it clear that they were not opposed to Iran having nuclear power? The Russians said we´re not opposed, and we´ll do the enrichment for you.

ELBARADEI: Again, there is a lot of distrust. There is a lot of distrust, Charlie.

ROSE: That is exactly the heart of it.

ELBARADEI: That is the heart of it. And Iranians say, "why should we trust you?" You know, they will give you a litany of things that happened in the past. So, and they say, "why should the Russians enrich for us? Why shouldn´t we be like the Russians, enriching?" The solution is, it has to be a gradual confidence-building, and that will never happen except when they start negotiating. And the earlier we get to negotiate, the better.

ROSE: One final - one small step at a time until we have...

ELBARADEI: Absolutely.

ROSE: ...developed mutual reciprocity. So Secretary Rice is basically in conversations with you and with everybody else saying, "stop enrichment. We´ll be there."

ELBARADEI: Absolutely. And I think she was very clear, she is ready - the U.S. is fully ready to engage on the nuclear issue and on every other issue, which is a very welcome statement. And I would hope the Iranians would listen to that. I would hope the Iranians would give peace a chance, as well as the U.S. would give regional stability.

ROSE: Take a risk for peace.

ELBARADEI: Take a risk for peace.

ROSE: That´s what they´ve got to do.

ELBARADEI: Both of them. They should take a risk for peace, absolutely.

ROSE: When the United States starts talking World War III, as the president did - you know, and lots of people talk about - you know, you´ve got to have - you know, you have to keep on the table the possibility of a military eventuality. If nothing else - if all else fails.


ROSE: Does that contribute to confidence-building? Does that have an impact on confidence-building?

ELBARADEI: It worries me a great deal, Charlie, when we talk about use of force when there is absolutely no reason to speak about use of force today. I mean, everybody agrees that Iran today does not have a nuclear weapon.

ROSE: Do they agree as to how far off it might be if they wanted one?

ELBARADEI: I think they agree. I mean, again, if I take John Negroponte and his successor recently, both of them have said that they are three to eight years away. So do we need to speak - and that´s [inaudible], do we need to hear every think tank, do we need to hear every morning, you know, people saying "let us bomb them tomorrow"? I mean, what that does.

ROSE: But the president has made clear they want to negotiate rather than bomb.

ELBARADEI: Absolutely.

ROSE: They´ve made clear that they want to settle this.

ELBARADEI: I think the administration is absolutely committed, and again, I can say, I repeat that today, Secretary Rice said, "we are absolutely committed to a peaceful diplomatic solution," which gives a good deal of comfort. I heard it before and I would like everybody in the U.S. and everywhere to hear that, because that´s really our aim. There is no military solution to it, and I think when people talk military solution and muscle flexing, they simply scare the hell out of all those in Iran, Charlie, who want to negotiate. You see, when we saw recent changes in the - you know, in the negotiating team, for example, in Iran, I do not know whether that´s - that´s good or bad, frankly, because - and I can´t judge that - but I would like to empower those who would like to go to the negotiating table.

Then the other thing, and I speak now as a lawyer, you can´t just continue to speak willy-nilly about use of force. I mean, then we go back half a century. You know, since 1945, after the second world war, we decided that we should try diplomacy, peaceful resolution of conflict, that we can only use force except in two cases: in case of self-defense, when there is an imminent threat, and in case there is a collective decision by the Security Council that there is a threat to international peace and security.

But now, people talk about use of force as if everybody is free to take law into its own hands, and that would be an absolute disaster. It´s the U.S. - and I´m not talking about the administration - all this intellectuals should understand the message they are sending. The message should be, you know, "we have gone through that" - we have gone through two major conflagrations in the past, and we should not talk about use of force until it is the last resort, until we exhaust every other possibility. And we are very far, far away from that in the case of Iran today.

ROSE: You know, there are some say that in the White House, even within the White House, but within the Government, there are two points of view about this. One, that the Vice President has one point of view and that the secretary of state has another point of view. Others suggest that they want - that they´re kind of working a good-cop, bad-cop thing - that the Vice President and his call for more tough sanctions - his tougher language gives her weapons to say, "look, let´s negotiate, because I´ve got" - do you think that´s true?

ELBARADEI: It´s hard for me to say, and I can´t really say that. But all I know that, of course, pressure and incentives are two tools of diplomacy. I mean, you have to use.

ROSE: Carrot and stick.

ELBARADEI: Carrot and the stick. This is - everybody does, everybody uses, but how to calibrate the carrot and the stick, how to - you know, how to make a fine balance between the right pressure and at the same time providing a carrot. I - you know, I - I saw - recently, I - a statement basically saying, if you just apply pressure, without any valve, it becomes like a pressure cooker. It will simply explode. So I don´t mind people talking about pressure. I don´t mind people talking about - you know - you know, sanctions and include sanctions, but at the same time, it has to be sanctions plus, and that plus is the carrots, the negotiation.

ROSE: OK. Is there any indication that you have - because you talk to them, you were in Tehran - any indication that there is a deal they´re willing to make? There is a place where they will give up something to have an agreement?

ELBARADEI: I think everybody in Iran would like to have a regular, normal relationship with the U.S. Iran is quite different, frankly, from the Arab world, Charlie - you know, when you have people in the Arab world are angry vis-a-vis some of the U.S. policies and the government are friendly. It´s the other way around in Iran.

ROSE: The government is unfriendly; the people admiring.

ELBARADEI: And the people are very - exactly. Are very friendly. So everybody would like to get - ultimately, and the leadership understand that they would like to see - you know, a deal, a grand package with the U.S., but a deal that is fair, that´s equitable, that assures them - you know, their technology transfer, sanctions, what have you. So there is no question - there is no question that there is a lot of interest in regularizing, normalizing, relationship with the U.S.

ROSE: But is there interest - because if you look at what they say, you don´t see a lot of interest, at least the President, who I interviewed for an hour, as you know, here.

ELBARADEI: There is a lot - I think there is a lot of rhetoric we can discard.

ROSE: Political rhetoric for political impact at home?

ELBARADEI: For domestic - for domestic consumption.

ROSE: Because there is an election.

ELBARADEI: Absolutely. But there is no question everybody would like to look forward and even get the credit for normalization of Iran relations with the U.S. in particular and with the West in general. There is no question about it. It´s a question of what are the terms of this deal? And who will get the credit for it? And the Iranians, we need to understand, Iran is an old civilization, 2,500 years, they´re very proud people. I mean, Iran also...

ROSE: And should be.

ELBARADEI: And should be. Iran is also, unlike the Arab world, where you have a strong person who can decide what to do, Iran is a very diffused authority. There is a lot of centers of power. And that also complicates things.

ROSE: But most people assume that Ayatollah Khamenei has the power, because they control the Defense Ministry and the principal elements of government, the military.

ELBARADEI: Sure. He´s the leader, but he also has to maintain a consensus among so many centers of power, so there is a process there, and that´s why you can see the Iranians when they negotiate, I mean, they know what they want. They have a very good strategy they usually implement. So it is not - it is not that we should take them lightly. We need to understand where they are coming from. I think the bottom line of that, Charlie - Iran feels that they are a powerful country in the Middle Eastern region, and they are. I think they are one.

ROSE: Don´t you think the United States recognizes that? Or not?

ELBARADEI: I think they - I think - I think if I - to what I hear from the Iranians, they would like to see the U.S. fully recognizing, respecting Iran as a regional power.

ROSE: I think that´s a crucial point. So tell me how the Iranians would believe that. What would the United States have to do to make the Iranians understand that they respect them and they admire their culture and they want to - and they respect their - their influence in the region?

ELBARADEI: I think all that could only come, Charlie, through negotiation. I mean, they need to discuss security assurance. They need to be assured that they will not be attacked. They want to be assured that there are no sanctions that are going to continue to be implemented against them. They need to be assured that they have access to technology. They want a trade agreement between the U.S. and Europe and Iran. They want to be recognized as a major player in discussion of regional security issues, whether it´s Iraq, whether it´s Palestine, whether it´s Lebanon.

ROSE: Iraq is a problem for the U.S.-Iranian relationship?

ELBARADEI: I think - I think if they were to have a - if we were to start a negotiation between the U.S. and Iran, Iran could be a major positive player in the - in the whole Middle East.

ROSE: But they haven´t done it so far.

ELBARADEI: No. They have not.

ROSE: They have not done it with respect to Israeli-Palestinian issues, because they support Hamas. They haven´t done it with respect to Iraq. And the United States and Ambassador Crocker has met with them and saying I couldn´t - and in fact, the United States believes they´re sending weapons in that are killing American soldiers. That´s what they believe. And they say they have the evidence. General Petraeus has the evidence.

ELBARADEI: I mean, I can´t really judge that. However, I don´t see Iran to go into a cooperative mode before the negotiation start. You see, everybody is flexing their muscle right now. Iran want to show that they still can - see.

ROSE: It´s a chicken-and-egg deal.

ELBARADEI: Chicken-and-egg, and Iran want to show that we can also hurt you if you hurt us, you know. So we need to change the mode from hostile mode into cooperative mode. But I personally believe, coming from that region, Charlie, that Iran could be a very positive - could have a very positive impact, because Iran has a lot of influence in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Palestine, in Lebanon. And so it could be a win-win situation to start the negotiations between the U.S. and Iran. And the earlier we do that, I think - I think the better for the entire - not only the entire world but particularly the Middle East, which could not have gotten - could not have gotten any worse than what it is today.

ROSE: How bad is it?

ELBARADEI: It really is bad. People don´t sometime understand - I mean, we talk - I see a lot of talk which make me shudder. People talk about Islamofascism. They talk about Islam extremism. People there are humiliated and angry, are emotional, and they are getting it both ways in many countries. They feel repressed on the hand of their own government, and they feel they have been unjustly treated by the outside world. So you get this combination. Then it´s very easy to become humiliated. It´s very easy to lose hope.

ROSE: But you can´t just explain that away, as you well know. You can´t explain it´s easy to do that and rage is a powerful factor. I mean, Islamic extremism is a factor in the world.

ELBARADEI: Oh, absolutely.

ROSE: It really is. And as I said it that way, Islamic extremism, not Islam. Islamic extremism is a factor of conflict in the world.

ELBARADEI: Absolutely. I think it´s very.

ROSE: Nobody fears it more than many of the Arab states.

ELBARADEI: Absolutely. But I think it´s very - it´s very important to say - you know, it´s very important how one uses the language.

ROSE: Right.

ELBARADEI: It´s very important to say, yes, some people have hijacked, you know, a religion and using that religion for absolutely sinister causes, other than calling it Islamofascism, for example, or Islamic extremism. That has nothing to do with it.

ROSE: Is Islamic extremism a bad word, too?

ELBARADEI: I think - because it has nothing to do with Islam. I mean.

ROSE: Even though a lot of it comes from...

ELBARADEI: It´s a...

ROSE: ...fundamental radical violence.

ELBARADEI: Charlie, as you well know, in any religion...

ROSE: I´m asking you to help us out because...

ELBARADEI: No, in any religion, it depends how you interpret it or misinterpret it. I mean, you can misinterpret any religion, you know. And this is - this is - these people have hijacked, you know, the name of the religion, and people should not fall into the trap. I think what we...

ROSE: So what do you call them, then? What do you call them? What do you call al Qaeda? What do you call people who, in the name of Islam - or some variation of Islam - are doing these days?

ELBARADEI: I think they´re extremists who are using a great religion.

ROSE: Exactly.

ELBARADEI: Which has been around for 14 centuries, and these are people who are an aberration. They are aberration. Well, they use - it has nothing to do with religion - again, as I always say that, I mean, we have seen frustration using color, using language. And what I would like - you see, because it is very important, Charlie, that we - at this stage, we need to reach out to the 1.2 billion Muslims who feel that they are being stereotyped, who feel they are being stopped at airports, and basically tell them, we need to reach out to each other. We share the same core values. Tolerance. Humanity. Solidarity.

These are people - as you know, as you rightly said, these are people who have absolutely - you know, despised by the Muslim before anybody else, because they have given a bad name to an entire culture, you know. So we need - I come back, again, to the Middle East. We need to understand what you need in the Middle East right now is not - is not power, is not force. What you need is really soft power, as you call it. You need human rights. You need governance. You need education. You need democracy. And this is.

ROSE: Human rights, governance, democracy.

ELBARADEI: Absolutely. Absolutely.

ROSE: Economic development?

ELBARADEI: Economic development - that´s what it is. We have - you know, we have a lot of people - I come - in Egypt, we have a lot of people who still live on $2 a day, you know, lots of them in the Muslim world.

ROSE: It is the tragedy of the Middle East.

ELBARADEI: It is a tragedy.

ROSE: That there are all these economic awards for the benefit of people.


ROSE: Some more than others.

ELBARADEI: Absolutely.

ROSE: Available if they could get - everybody could get past, in some grand bargain, the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

ELBARADEI: Absolutely. Sure.

ROSE: The Iranian issue. The democracy issue. Participation by more people. The advancement of women issue. All that.

ELBARADEI: And we have - they´re all interconnected, but what really people don´t understand that what you see right now in the Middle East is - you start with poverty. You start with people feeling humiliated, oppressed. And then you end up with weapons of mass destruction. The connection between development and disempowerment - you know, you end up with - being a populist is the most popular currency in the Middle East right now. Then you end up with civil wars - half the Middle East in a civil war situation. You end up with interstate wars. And then you end up with countries trying to acquire nuclear weapons. But you want to change that. It is not going to change through pouring more weapons. You know, it´s going through basically using soft power to get these people - treat people like human beings, they will act like human beings, Charlie. I mean, that´s as simple as I can put it, and you need to get these people - empower the people. Focus on human security.

Resolve the Palestinian issue. I mean, I keep saying, it is not just the Palestinian issue. The Palestinian issue continue to be a red flag for the whole Muslim world as a sign of humiliation, injustice. And the earlier we resolve the Palestinian issue - it has been mismanaged for 40 years from both sides, and the earlier we resolve the Palestinian issue, the earlier we reach out to the Muslim world, and say you are part of the human family, we need to work together, we need to focus on the core human values that we all share, that is the best security system that we can develop. What we deal with right now - Iran, you know, the suicide bomber - these are symptoms. We need to start addressing the causes and really take a serious look and go for it.

ROSE: What would you do about Iraq if you were in the United States shoes now? Today? Having made whatever mistakes have been made, today. And what ought to be the role of the neighbors, including Iran?

ELBARADEI: Absolutely. I think frankly - I mean, again - and Iraq - Iraq solution - it has to be a political solution. There is no military solution to Iraq. You need to engage the neighbors. You need to put a neighbor - a Muslim, Arab face.

ROSE: Don´t you think - for all the problems, all the mistakes, all the tragedy, all the horror, all the suffering, that there have been efforts to engage the neighbors?

ELBARADEI: Yeah, but the neighbors have been - unfortunately, have been sitting on the fence.

ROSE: Exactly.

ELBARADEI: The neighbors -- I mean, the neighbors have taken the position, "you broke it, you fix it."

ROSE: Exactly.

ELBARADEI: Which is - which doesn´t help any way. I mean, this is part of the region. These are a neighboring country. I think you need - I am not engaged in that, but as a person, again, coming from this region - you need to get the neighbors fully engaged. The Iraqis should wake up in the morning and see Arab faces, Muslim faces, and not American - and not American soldiers. And you need to start a political process, and you need to engage Iran. Iran has tremendous influence in Iraq. But the more Iraq will continue, the more will continue this.

ROSE: But I´m not sure there is any evidence that Iran is trying to contribute to that at this point.

ELBARADEI: I don´t really know that. No, I don´t.


ELBARADEI: You mean contribute to the...

ROSE: To the kind of positive things you´re talking about, in terms of creating a political solution.

ELBARADEI: But I think that could come. I believe that could come.

ROSE: If they sat at the table on a broad conversation.

ELBARADEI: Absolutely, I think. Absolutely, Charlie, yes.

ROSE: How do you factor in - and tell me what the reality of this is - the notion that - the notion that Iran has - the fear of the United States, as you know better than anyone, is that the Iranians are simply playing for time, playing for time, and the more they cannot have - and have you in and listen to what you have to say and listen to your proposals. The more they can delay, the closer they will get to not having to worry about delay. Is that a factor in your judgment?

ELBARADEI: It´s a factor, of course, but that´s why I keep telling the Iranians, don´t expand the capacity. You have the knowledge how to enrich, but the knowledge is one thing. Having a bomb is another. I mean, you ask me how many years it would take. And the assessment by all the intelligence, in fact, Western intelligence, they are a few years away, because they still don´t have the capacity to produce the nuclear materials, the weaponization, the delivery system. So even if they have the knowledge, I continue to urge the Iranians publicly and privately, don´t build capacity right now. Just - just.

ROSE: You don´t need 500 centrifuges.

ELBARADEI: Exactly. Just hold it. Hold your horses right now until we get to the negotiating table. And then your whole right will be part of this global structure of regional security. The problem, I should say, Charlie, unfortunately we still continue to live in a world where people see that having nuclear weapons is a means of power, of prestige and of a shield. If you really want to protect yourself, you know, you should have nuclear weapons, and that - you know, I - this is an issue - again, we talked about root-causes in the Middle East. The whole system, the so-called arms-control system, is based on those who do not have weapons should not have weapons, but the weapons states should move into nuclear disarmament. And for 37 years, we haven´t really seen much movement on that.

When I saw this year people like Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, Sam Nunn, Bill Perry saying we need to go for abolition, because it is increasingly dangerous, decreasingly effective. It ought to be a wake-up call. So I think the U.S., Russia, everybody, all the weapons states, will have much stronger moral authority if they show - if they say, "we are moving into that direction. We don´t need to rely on nuclear weapons." I think if you do that, you will create the environment - which I would hope to see in my lifetime - that we look at nuclear weapons the way we look at genocide or slavery, you know. It´s a taboo, you know. But as long as we continue to say, "well, nuclear weapons are very important for our security, but you cannot have it," that system is not sustainable in the long run.

ROSE: And it´s viewed with a certain element of hypocrisy.

ELBARADEI: I will continue to work as a firefighter. You know, I will put a fire here, but then I will have a fire somewhere else, because again, exactly, the double - the so-called double standard has to go.

ROSE: There is this, also, and how do you - it seems to me two things I want to ask you about, two big ideas. Number one is the power of an idea that is to your advantage to give up nuclear weapons or the ambition. Perhaps North Korea would be an example of that, perhaps. Perhaps Libya in some other way was an example of that. That if, in fact, the world community recognizes that giving up, that helps you rather than hurts you.

ELBARADEI: I think these two examples, Charlie, are excellent examples. You need to do two things. You need to tell them that having nuclear weapons will not really help you in any way, either in power or prestige. But at the same, telling them, if you give up your nuclear weapons, we guarantee your security, that you will not be attacked, that you will not be taken for a ride.

ROSE: How do you do that? By some kind of security agreement?

ELBARADEI: Security assurance, security agreement. I mean, we have NATO, for example. Could you think of multilateral arrangements for countries that have given up their nuclear weapons? I mean, supposedly, the whole idea has been talked about for the last 20 years, that those who do not have nuclear weapons should have assurance that nobody will use nuclear weapon against them, for example. That didn´t come through until now in a binding agreement. But you have to show them that nuclear weapons will not add to their security. Giving up nuclear weapons will not diminish their security.

But in addition to just security assurance, reach out in term of integrate them - you know, the more you integrate countries, you know, the more - the less likely that you will go to war. If you look at...

ROSE: The more democracy you have, the less likely you are to go to war.


ELBARADEI: Of course. If you look at the European Union right now, there are 27 countries. I deal with them every day. They play dirty tricks against each other, but are they ever going to - it´s unthinkable that they are going to go to war, because they know they have too much at stake. The integration. The economic integration. The political integration. The democratic system that works. Can we eventually - again, maybe it sounds idealistic - but can we expand this European Union concept to cover the entire world? Have - you know, have more integration among all the countries - economically, politically, socially - so it would be extremely costly to even think of going to war, and have the mechanism that could resolve, early on, any dispute through table, like where we are sitting here.

ROSE: Have the Iranians - back to the Iranians. Have they done a disservice to their own ambition because they have had the level of disingenuousness they have had - or even lying about what they have done? And do you have an explanation as to why they would do that?

ELBARADEI: I think they - they created what I call a confidence deficit by...

ROSE: That´s a nice word.

ELBARADEI: not coming clean from day one. They explained that.

ROSE: Go ahead.

ELBARADEI: They explained, Charlie, that they did that because they were under sanctions and they could not have gotten the stuff. However, since we started the inspections, this program came to the surface, they should have come absolutely, you know, clean from day one. I told them, you know, "you owe us a confession. The earlier you come with the full confession, difficult as it is, it´s the best way to do it." And as a result, of course, that added to the - to the sense of distrust, that - you know.

ROSE: Absolutely. On - on the West´s side.

ELBARADEI: On the West´s side. Of course.

ROSE: They say, look, they´re lying, they´re deceiving us.

ELBARADEI: Absolutely. Correct.

ROSE: And they´ll go from sort of saying we´re interested in a solution to all of a sudden blocking inspectors from coming in.


ROSE: Your own inspectors can´t come in. Lock the door. You can´t come.

ELBARADEI: I think this was, I should say, a mistake on the part of the Iranians. Their explanation that they probably were ready to do that as part of the package, of an agreement grand deal so this will be in a way grandfathered what they did in the past, that did not happen. That did not happen. And therefore, they ended up, again, with - owing us a confession, so we cannot say you are clean. And it is difficult for them to say, "we are now late in the day, but we still have things to tell you." However, last month they finally came with this agreement with us.

ROSE: This is the August.

ELBARADEI: The August agreement. And now saying that we are ready now to clarify all of these issues. I have a team today in Tehran. They are making progress. I hope they will come - you know, clean. But I can only...

ROSE: Lay out that, what it is they can come clean about. This is your famous.

ELBARADEI: Basically to say - we should be able to say that all what´s happening in Iran today is under IAEA inspection, and there is no parallel military program or no undeclared activities.

ROSE: Which you cannot say now.

ELBARADEI: I cannot say now today.

ROSE: You cannot say there is no parallel military program.

ELBARADEI: Yeah. We haven´t seen it. We haven´t seen any concrete evidence that there is a parallel military program, but I´m not in a position yet to say that I am comfortable enough to provide assurance that I - all the experiments, all the procurement is declared to me. So we are - while I´m not - while I´m not saying this is - that´s what I said, why I´m saying Iran is not today a danger - a clear and present danger, you know, but I´m also not saying that Iran - I can give you assurance that Iran is absolutely clean. We´re somewhere in between. And basically, I try to say the jury is still out.

ROSE: And can you find out, though? That´s the question.

ELBARADEI: Well, I can find out.

ROSE: Whether - can you somehow, if you have enough access, say, as you did about Iraq, we found no nuclear weapon.

ELBARADEI: I can find out as far as I can.


ROSE: In March of 2003, you reported to the U.N.?

ELBARADEI: Sure. I can find out as much as I can say through redundancy, the - the more transparent a country is, the more I can provide assurances, the more I can say I have no evidence. But "I have no evidence" has to be based on fact, has to be based on inspection, has to be based on total access to where I need to go.

ROSE: And you don´t have that as of now?

ELBARADEI: Not yet, no, absolutely, I don´t have it yet.

ROSE: But if they wanted your confidence, why wouldn´t they do that? Your confidence, not George Bush´s confidence, not.

ELBARADEI: They now said since August, Charlie, you know, that they are ready now to work with us, to clarify all the issues. But the test of the pudding is in the tasting. I have to give a report at the end of next month. I hope I should be able to give a positive report that they clarified the issues, but the test is, are they transparent enough? Are they - you know, are they cooperative enough? If they are, then, obviously, that will work in their favor, but that would resolve part of the problem, which is that Iran today is clean. We still have the other part, which is say do we trust Iran´s future intentions? That´s really the major problem the U.S. has and the West has. It´s not what Iran has...

ROSE: Today.

ELBARADEI:; it´s what Iran could have in 10 years. And that´s what I said. This is a confidence.

ROSE: And they need enrichment of fuel in order to get to the bad place, or as well as the good place.

ELBARADEI: Absolutely. And that´s why I said this is primarily a confidence-building issue, a security or insecurity issue. And will never be resolved until we get the major protagonists, the U.S. and Iran, around the table. And the earlier we do that, the earlier we get over this hump of how to get there, the better - and for everybody.

ROSE: What´s interesting about this - and I realize how you say, talking about the use of force does not help the matter. But it seems to me that it´s not just the United States. The French, Russians, others say it´s unacceptable. Unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons. Am I wrong or right about this?

ELBARADEI: No. They are saying that.

ROSE: All these other countries, not just the United States.

ELBARADEI: I think it´s unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons.

ROSE: You think so.

ELBARADEI: Yes, because they committed themselves not to have nuclear weapons, and so have another 185 countries. It´s unacceptable.

ROSE: Signatories.

ELBARADEI: Signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. But it´s unacceptable because they committed themselves not to do it.

ROSE: You have been Head of the IAEA since 1997. You have worked there before that as Head of external communications and other things.


ROSE: Have you seen what progress they have made? Because I think you think we have passed certain lines, and I understand you to mean by that we have passed the line - they know how to do it. They just don´t have the enriched uranium, and they don´t have the missiles and they don´t have - but they know how to do it. They have acquired the knowledge.

ELBARADEI: Yes. I think so. I mean, people will have disagreement whether they perfected the knowledge, but they have the knowledge. They have been running centrifuges for 16 months right now. It is not rocket science. They have the knowledge.

But again, is there - does knowledge mean that you have a weapon? Absolutely not. There is a long time span before you convert the knowledge, as you rightly said, into a weapon. You know, you have to enrich uranium to 90%, which means that you have to have an industrial capacity to do that. You just have to - you know, turn it into a weapon, into a sphere, you have to rise - the weapon size so you can deliver it.

ROSE: Right, right.

ELBARADEI: You have to have a delivery system, because you cannot have it on a truck. So these are number of years you have to go through. Yes, you have the knowledge, but knowledge is out of the tube, Charlie. That we have known since A.Q. Khan, that the knowledge - we know there are now CD-Roms with how to enrich, for example.

ROSE: You can go on the Internet and find out more than you ever could before.

ELBARADEI: The knowledge is not what worries me. The capacity - building capacity is, you know, without proper verification and without really the necessary trust, that would worry me the most.

ROSE: When you talk to the Iranians - you can talk to them. You can have the dialogue. You´re there.

ELBARADEI: All the time.

ROSE: All the time. And when you´re not there, your people are there.


ROSE: Do you get an impression that they are genuinely interested in doing something, in solving something, in getting a better relationship with the West, and - and perhaps understanding that central to that is the nuclear issue? Do they understand it? Are they looking for solutions?

ELBARADEI: I think they are looking for a solution.

ROSE: You think?

ELBARADEI: I believe they are looking for a solution. I mean, I can´t go...

ROSE: There is no guarantee, right.

ELBARADEI: There is no guarantee, Charlie, but I believe they are looking for solution. The people who are in charge, like Larijani, like Rohani before him, like Khatami.

ROSE: Those two are gone because they were considered too moderate.

ELBARADEI: But they´re still there. They´re still part of the process. Khatami was there. Rafsanjani was there. All these people understand that they need to - they were interested in having a comprehensive solution. That´s what they say all the time. They know that the nuclear issue is a major part of the problem, if not - you know, but they also would like - as I said, at the end, to have a deal that recognize them as a regional power, that allow Iran to be full-fledged member of the international community, have access to technology, have access to trade. So yes, they are interested, but the terms and the conditions of the agreement is what´s still to be negotiated.

ROSE: Sometimes we´re repeating things, but it´s just important to say this because you´re here and I want to take advantage of you being here.


ROSE: All those things are possible.


ROSE: Recognizing their role in the region. Recognizing that they are a major power. Recognizing all of that. The people - the issues also there in terms of some conduct on the part of the United States that the United States is not going to attack. It was very important to them. It´s also important for the United States that they not be supporting Hezbollah, not be supporting Hamas, that they not be sending weapons into Iraq.


ROSE: Are they aware? Do they recognize that that is a huge point of contention from the United States that gets in the way of a relationship?

ELBARADEI: I´m sure they are. I haven´t really discussed that with them in detail, because I don´t - it´s not my file. I don´t know the details. But all they told me that if the negotiation were to start with the U.S., they would like to discuss Iraq. They would like to discuss Lebanon. They would like to discuss the Palestinian issue. I mean, they said, we are ready to discuss all the issues. And we can play a positive role.

ROSE: Even though they´ve said they support Hezbollah and they support people who don´t think Israel has a right to exist. They support them, financially and otherwise.

ELBARADEI: But that has to be part of the negotiation, obviously. They said, we are ready to play a positive role on all these issues. How far? What are the details? How we reconcile the differences? Which red lines you establish? I mean, this is going to be a very complicated negotiation, but as I said, Iran very much need to integrate with the West. The West very much need Iran to be a positive player in the Middle East. And my personal belief, if we start the negotiation, it will move very fast into a positive direction.

ROSE: How is your relationship with the United States now? Yours. As you know, it is said - this may or may not be true - that you had some reservations about running for a third term. And when you realized that John Bolton, former Ambassador to the United Nations, was out to sort of block your - that that was an incentive for you to stand for a third term, and everybody else coalesced around you, and so the United States had to acquiesce?

ELBARADEI: That´s correct. To give you a short answer, Charlie.

ROSE: This is good.

ELBARADEI: I think that´s correct. I don´t like people to make decisions which has to do with my life or with my career.

ROSE: That was your decision, and your wife´s decision, making that.

ELBARADEI: I think that was primarily my wife´s decision. She said, go for it.

ROSE: She did, didn´t she?

ELBARADEI: She did. Absolutely. I mean, she was repulsed, frankly, and she said that´s not the right way to do it. And I didn´t feel that this is the way I should - decision has to do with my life, I´m a public servant. You know, it´s up to the rest of the - the international community. If they have confidence in me, and I know they did. And I went for it, and the U.S. joined in consensus. And we have - I have a good working relationship, you know. We - in many cases, we have different perceptions. I give advice.

ROSE: You and the United States? Or you and Condoleezza Rice? Or you and...

ELBARADEI: With different people in the administration. I give my views. I give my advice. I give my perception. I feel that I owe it to them, you know, as well as to every other Member State, to tell them how I see things from where I´m sitting. I have a responsibility that could make a difference between war and peace. I have a responsibility to make sure that we try every possible way to resolve issues through peaceful means. But I always tell them, at the end, it´s your decision. I am the adviser and not the decider. So I know where I am, you know, what is my role. But I am also very clear that I´m not just sitting there as a technical person fixing cameras. I have a role, you know, to give them.

ROSE: Well, it is said they both understand that you´re the only person who´s talking to both sides with any real...

ELBARADEI: I do. And...

ROSE: I mean, the EU is there but..

ELBARADEI: People - it´s important in what I do is to maintain this impartiality. That people need to know, Charlie, that you don´t have a hidden agenda other than the core values we talk about.

ROSE: Yeah.

ELBARADEI: That we should not end up killing each other, that we should be able to reach out to each other.

ROSE: And the responsibility to the dignity of human beings and all that.

ELBARADEI: Absolutely. And I do, but I get smeared all the time by - you know, as you can see, from all the - I get smeared by the Iraqis, by the Korean, by the Iranians, by the - some of the U.S. media. But that´s - it comes with the territory.

ROSE: Each side thinks you´re working for the other guy.

ELBARADEI: They don´t see that 50 percent of my work is behind the scenes, you know, and what I do behind the scenes is much more effective than what I say publicly. I say publicly - I make a statement publicly. I urge. I cajole. I pressure. But a lot of the important work is behind the scenes, when we are sitting face to face, and then I can tell them exactly what needs to be done.

ROSE: Someone said that you see your role - this was in a New York Times piece, I think, Lynn Schwinn and others, whoever wrote it, I´ve forgotten - that you see your role as a secular pope, making sure that people don´t kill each other.

ELBARADEI: I think that´s correct. I mean, I think - people misunderstand that. I mean, it is not self-aggrandizement. "Secular pope" means I have to remind people of the basic principles they subscribe to. You know, I have to remind the weapons states that they committed themselves to move to nuclear disarmament. I have to remind everybody that they committed to resolve issues through peaceful means. I have to remind people that there is an inspection process at work, so we don´t go and bomb, like the Israelis did in Syria, before at least going through the process. So this is.

ROSE: Wait, wait, wait. I don´t want to go too far past that, because I meant to bring that up. So what impact did that have? The Israelis say that they had material from North Korea, that they were beginning to build a nuclear reactor, I guess they thought. Were they?

ELBARADEI: I don´t know. I mean, I never - I never got a shred of information from anybody, Charlie.

ROSE: Did anybody ask you to find out for them?

ELBARADEI: No, no. And that´s why I said, I got very disturbed because that´s really undermining the system which we continued to build over the years, that if you have information that a country is building a clandestine program, you give that information to us, and we go and check it, you know. But - but you don´t go and take the law in your own hands before you use the system, because you are simply undermining the system. And I hope that was not nuclear related, because nobody came to us. Until today, I don´t have any piece of information. I have to check with the Syrians. The Syrians said this is just simply a military installation. But I need - if I get any information, I certainly will send our...

ROSE: Have the Israelis given you information?


ROSE: Has the U.S. given you any information?

ELBARADEI: No. We didn´t get any.

ROSE: Did you ask for it?

ELBARADEI: Of course, we did.

ROSE: I thought so, but I had to ask.

ELBARADEI: No, we did. We did.

ROSE: And the U.S. and the Israelis are not giving you any information. The Syrians and...


ELBARADEI: We did not get any information. And I find that, you know, frankly, is not helpful, because if you have - if you have a system, you know, you can make use of that system, and the system probably could be much more efficient. Because then we go on the ground, then we see what´s going on. Then we bring the facts out.

ROSE: There is also this, though. The Israelis will say, look what happened when we - whenever it was - that we bombed Saddam. Saddam was trying to develop a nuclear capacity. If we hadn´t done that, he would probably have a nuclear weapon by now, because nobody else was doing anything about it. Do they have a point?

ELBARADEI: I don´t think they do. Again, they bombed Saddam Hussein´s research reactor at that time, again, on the fear that Saddam Hussein might walk out of the system, might develop nuclear weapons. But what happened is that Saddam Hussein immediately, year after, went underground and built a huge - a clandestine nuclear weapon program which we...

ROSE: Discovered after ´91.

ELBARADEI: ...discovered after ´91, because we didn´t even have the authority to look after it at that time. But in many cases, and that´s why I say, when I go back to Iran, I said nuclear use of force is no solution, because in many - in Iran today, for example, all the facilities are just nascent facilities. They are not fully-fledged working facilities. So the knowledge is there. You cannot bomb the knowledge. And if you go and bomb them, all what you are going to do is simply mobilize everybody to support the regime.

ROSE: Including reformers.

ELBARADEI: Including reformers. People, again, I remind people, there is a difference between disliking a regime and loving my country. And you jolt a country´s pride, and then even the reformer will hide - will align behind a regime they might not like, but simply because they don´t like their country to be humiliated. And even if Iran were not working on a weapons program today, I can assure you if you use force, you know, that they will go into a crash course to develop a nuclear weapon. So that´s why I said we should not talk about use of force where there is no reason to talk about it now. Nobody say it is completely off the table. Everybody knows, you know, even under the United Nations Charter, in certain situations, you can use force. But we have to make a proportionate description of the danger we are facing from Iran today. It´s a danger of future intention. Let us focus on the present. Let us try to build confidence. That to me is the way for a durable solution, Charlie.

ROSE: Last, finally, congratulations on the Nobel Prize.

ELBARADEI: Thank you very much.

ROSE: Really.

ELBARADEI: Thank you very much. I mean, again, it´s - it´s for me, but it´s more important for the institution I represent. And you know - and again, it´s - it´s hard work, and for the 2,500 people working for me, sharing this prize with them was a great thing. Because it is thankless job we are doing, Charlie, and - but it´s - as we said at the beginning of the program, somebody has to do it.

ROSE: Thank you for coming.

ELBARADEI: Thank you very much, Charlie.

ROSE: Mohamed ElBaradei. He is the Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and I am pleased to have him here for the hour.

Thank you for watching. We´ll see you next time.