U.N. nuke chief blasts U.S. arms sale to Mideast
ElBaradei: Supplying Saudis, Israelis with weapons won’t stabilize region


Updated: 12:26 a.m. ET Aug 26, 2007

VIENNA, Austria - The head of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog criticized U.S. moves to assist in the supply of weapons to its allies in the Middle East, saying the money would be better spent on regional development projects.

In an interview with the Austrian newsweekly Profil, to be published Monday, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, said a U.S. strategy to support a weapons buildup in countries such as Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt was not helpful for improving security in the Middle East.

“Pouring more money into arms is not going to resolve the issue,” ElBaradei said. “You can end up in a situation like the Cold War in the past ... Does that provide security? Does that provide stability? It doesn’t.”

Audio excerpts of ElBaradei’s comments, in English, were shared with The Associated Press before the interview is published in German Monday. The IAEA has not released a transcript on its Web site, but IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming confirmed ElBaradei’s quotes late Saturday.

Earlier this month, the United States offered Israel an unprecedented $30 billion of military aid over 10 years. It is also proposing weapons packages to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to help them counter growing Iranian assertiveness.

The U.S. has expressed grave concern over Iran and Syria’s backing of the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon. In addition, the United States says Iran is backing Shiite insurgents in its war in Iraq and trying to develop nuclear weapons.