Powered by WebAds

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Blame ElBaradei for Iran's nuclear program

If you're looking for someone to blame for Iran's progress toward nuclear weapons, outgoing IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei would be a fair choice.
ElBaradei's conduct regarding Iraq's non-existent nuclear weapons brought him a great deal of international prestige. He became a popular speaker in important forums around the world, and in 2005 he and the agency received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to curtail nuclear proliferation.

The prize, as people who knew him observed, went to his head and made him haughty, arrogant and self-righteous. But that's when things began to go downhill.

"He started to behave as if he knew better than anyone else and could not make a mistake," one of the senior officials in the agency complained. But it was after winning the prize that his career reached a nadir that stained his earlier achievements. While it could be argued that ElBaradei hardly had any control over North Korea's unstable and defiant nuclear program, the poor management of the crisis with Iran has to be attributed largely to him - the Egyptian diplomat is responsible for his organization's placatory approach toward the Iranian nuclear program. For almost a decade, starting in 1992, the agency inspectors did not notice that Iran had a secret nuclear program that violated its international commitments. Even when the agency had the information, in 2002 (to a considerable degree thanks to American, British, German and Israeli intelligence), ElBaradei ignored it and made every possible effort to undermine its reliability.

He intervened repeatedly to distort his inspectors' reports on Iran's nuclear sites, and he made sure that the IAEA's periodic reports about Iran would be camouflaged in diplomatic gibberish. Time and again they repeated the phrase that "no proof was found" that Iran's nuclear program had military aspects, even though they were blatantly obvious. ElBaradei was opposed to sanctioning Iran, not to mention military action, and repeatedly attempted to conduct a dialogue with Tehran in order to reach a compromise.

It is not clear whether his backing for Iran stemmed from his origin - as some Israeli Atomic Energy Commission officials and others believe; from his legal background and careful phrasing; or from a naive belief in international diplomacy and dialogue at any price, while consistently rejecting the military option. Maybe it was all these factors. Whatever the case may be, his conduct toward Iran raised the ire of George W. Bush's administration, which sought to have him replaced.

ElBaradei's relationship with Israel, which he visited twice, was tense. To the chagrin of the international agency, he repeatedly called for a nuclear-free Middle East, which was interpreted as targeting Israel. His animosity toward Israel found special expression after the attack in September 2007 on Syria's nuclear facility. He ensured that Israel's name be mentioned in the IAEA reports about the Syrian nuclear plan, even though this was not necessary. And he added a paragraph stating that Israel had carried out the attack, even though it had never officially admitted doing so.

Given his conduct toward Iran and his attitude toward Israel, some in Israel even considered trying to defame him by presenting him as an Iranian collaborator.
I don't believe that Iraq's nuclear program was 'non-existent,' but that is neither here nor there. It is clear that ElBaradei has (or had) a soft spot for Iran and Syria - witness his repeated references to them as 'brothers,' which were inappropriate given his position.

ElBaradei deserves to end his career in ignominy for his inaction on Iran. Unfortunately, that's unlikely to happen unless Iran actually succeeds in deploying a nuclear weapon.


Post a Comment

<< Home