ElBaredei the Enabler

When, in the all-too-near future, the world looks to identify those responsible for allowing Iran's nuclear arsenal to change the world forever, one name will figure prominently: Mohammed. Not the Prophet Mohammed as most people would presume. The founder of Islam plays a role, but the Mohammed in question is Mohammed ElBaradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

He will be the man who will be credited as the enabler. The mullahs will get their nuclear scepter, and the world's ability to restrain the messianic, genocidal and suicidal regime in Iran gets far weaker.

ElBaradei's record reveals a pattern of egregious behavior that should have led to his ouster long ago. It is a record that heretofore escaped much scrutiny thanks to a compliant diplomatic corps and a complacent media. While the record of Iranian subterfuges, broken promises, violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT), and blatant defiance of the United Nations Security Council -- all clearly geared towards developing a nuclear arsenal -- has been well-documented, the role that Mohammed ElBaradei has played in serving their interests has received notably less attention.

A Neutral?

ElBaradei is an Egyptian, and served in that nation's government for many years before joining the staff of the IAEA in 1984, becoming its Director General in 1997. The wisdom behind allowing an Egyptian to assume the role as the world's nuclear negotiator should be questioned.

The Middle East is a cauldron of violence. While some might believe a Middle Easterner could be trusted by the governments in the region, his insider status could give other parties sway over him.  Even if he is a man of impeccable character and virtue, he is subject to pressures and implicit threats that might come his way in his UN office. Will ElBaradei be accountable only to the IAEA? Given that he has already been accused of exceeding his mandate (more on this below), does his background offer some grounds for concern?

Egypt has long been antagonistic to Israel, the state most imperiled now by the prospect of nuclear destruction. While Egypt did sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1977, this has been, at best, a "cold peace". Egypt has allowed a flourishing arms smuggling network to operate from its territory -- one that has led to the arming of Hamas in Gaza. Egypt has not facilitated peace between Israel and its neighbors. Egypt stages war games with Israel as the focus. Egypt has also explored the options of developing its own nuclear program -- possibly violating the provisions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. How likely would it be that Egypt would look kindly on one of its own frustrating their plans by enforcing the provisions of the Nuclear Non-ProliferationTreaty, to which it is a signatory?


Egypt has long considered itself a leading Arab state, and has a history of considering itself a leader of the so-called Non-Aligned movement of lesser-developed nations. These are the very nations that now criticize the current nuclear regulatory regime as one being discriminatory towards them and who advocate the loosening of the nuclear nonproliferation regime. These nations routinely come to the defense of Iran and of ElBaradei (verbally, but more importantly, through their votes at the IAEA). Perhaps because Iran has offered to share its nuclear expertise with them.

Furthermore, Egypt is routinely considered one of the most corrupt nations on Earth; indeed Boutros Boutros Ghali an Egyptian who, like ElBaradei, was a senior member of Egypt's diplomatic corps and who also occupied a high UN post, Secretary General at the time the United Nations was linked to the Iraq Oil-for-food corruption scandal; Boutros Ghali's brother-in-law was charged with bribery and conspiracy to commit wire fraud tied to the oil-for food program; a cousin of Boutros-Ghali's reportedly served as a conduit for illicit cash linked to the corruption.

When corruption flourishes in a government and within its diplomatic and government ranks, it is only sensible to be a bit skeptical about those within its ranks or those who have spent much of their career in those ranks and who will presumably return to them once their stints at international organizations have concluded.

The fact that ElBaradei has no scientific background is curious, since the IAEA is supposed to be merely a technical agency, not a diplomatic body. Perhaps that helps account for some of his behavior in office. ElBaradei's program of interminable negotiations between the IAEA and Iran has allowed Iran to continue its nuclear program. Despite violating provisions in the NNPT and promises made to the IAEA and the EU, Iran presses ahead. 

A thought experiment: assume for a moment that ElBaradei wanted to help Iran obtain nuclear weapons, and was coaching the Iranians in ways to avoid international sanctions. Would the outcome look any different?

The Bush Administration opposed his bid for another term as director general because it had collected intelligence,
"disputed by some agencies -- that ElBaradei was providing advice to Iran on how to avoid sanctions from his organization for its previously undisclosed uranium enrichment programs..."
This later let to a diplomatic flap when it was revealed that the US was eavesdropping on conversations between Elbaredei and the Iranians. Such was the level of doubt regarding Elbaradei's motives.

ElBaradei and the 2004 Presidential Election

Sensing that the Bush Administration -- intent on derailing the Iranian quest for nuclear weapons -- wanted to replace him when his term expired, he reportedly leaked stories to the American media regarding a large cache of weapons in Iraq that had mysteriously vanished while under American control. This leak was -- coincidentally? -- made at a delicate and crucial time, right before the Presidential election in a tight race between John Kerry and George Bush. The report was later proved to be false. But at the time it created a firestorm and was used by Kerry and the media to attack Bush. A loss by Bush would have gladdened the heart of the Iranian mullahs (assuming they have hearts): Bush had called the Iranian leader charter members of the Axis of Evil and was the one world leader focused on thwarting their nuclear program.  ElBaradei was criticized for meddling in US elections - an action that would clearly be in violation of his duties and mandate.

ElBaradei and Iran

As notedby Professor Anne Bayefsky (whose superlative coverage of the United Nations is unmatched), ever since ElBaradei became head of the IAEA, he:
"has assigned himself the role of running interference for Iran. He first focused on keeping Iran off the agenda of the Security Council, a delay tactic that worked for a few precious years. When the matter finally got to the Council, ElBaradei railed against sanctions.

"In January 2007, ElBaradei suggested a ‘time-out' on the ‘application of sanctions'. In July 2007 he concocted a deal between the IAEA and Iran "on the modality for resolving the remaining outstanding issues. This led to the deal that will allow Iran to continue to string along the international community while it develops the bomb."
ElBaradei has been unusually receptive to Iranian demands, acquiescing in their requests and in doing so, emboldening them in their quest for nuclear weapons. Last year, ElBaradei removed his chief inspector Chris Charlier, who was convinced the Iranians were trying to develop nuclear weapons, from the IAEA team monitoring Iran at the request of the Iranians.  As one blogger noted:
"those who have thought IAE chief Mohammed ElBaradei actually to be collaborating with Iran in their quest for a nuclear bomb have a possible smoking gun in an interview published in Welt am Sonntag." 
Steve Schippert wrote in ThreatsWatch:

It is no secret that Charlier has been unpopular with the Iranians. His disposition has long been at odds with ElBaradei's own. Said Chris Charlier,

"I am not a politician, I am a technician and as such the only thing which interests me is whether Iran's nuclear program is a civil or military one. The inspections have to reach an unambiguous conclusion"

In one of several Charlier interviews included within a 2005 PBS documentary on IAEA inspections in Iran just before Ahmadinejad's election, the head IAEA inspector openly referred to Iran's deceptions and video taping of all of their work and conversations as "all part of the game" Iran plays with the IAEA inspectors. (Read the transcript here.) It was within that documentary that Chris Charlier also mentioned that tests of the Kalaye Electric site had returned random swab sample results of highly enriched uranium. "When we did the analysis we find out that there was the spectrum and distribution of the particle and it was, yes quite surprising to have this concentration of particles around thirty-six and fifty-four percent." The level of Uranium (U235) enrichment required for nuclear power is generally between 3% and 5%. It occurs naturally at a concentration of approximately 0.71%. Weapons Grade Uranium is considered to be at a 90% purity level.

As Charlier now states, "I believe they are hiding what they are doing with their nuclear activities. It is probable they are doing things of which we have no knowledge." He concludes candidly, "Tehran is obviously making a bomb."
This appears a conclusion for which Mohamed ElBaradei has no room in his nuclear watchdog agency. As one of Charlier's fellow inspectors puts it,
"For that he is now paying the price. El-Baradei has sacrificed Charlier and set him to counting paper clips in Vienna till he eventually retires."
The chief IAEA inspector on the Iran team openly states that he believes the Iranian regime is lying and is in the process of developing a nuclear bomb. His reward for years of service? Fired by Mohammed ElBaradei at the behest of the Iranians.

Grabbing the Diplomatic Lead Role

ElBaradei has recently taken it upon himself to be the world's diplomat when dealing with Iran. As head of a UN technical agency, he has no such mandate.

His recent round of "negotiating" with Iran has led to an agreement roundly criticized as giving Iran carte blanch to create nuclear weapons. Even the New York Times, staunch defender of all things international, characterized ElBaradei's actions as "cutting his own deal with Iran's government."

ElBaradei not only runs interference for Iran, he serves as their public relations spinmeister. When the West flexes its diplomatic muscle byrefusing to rule out military action, as it has in the face of recent Iranian arrogance, he calls these Westerners "crazies." Meanwhile he is pandering to the Iranian regime -- a regime that calls the Holocaust a myth, that calls openly for the destruction of America and Israel, that persecutes its own minorities, tortures reformers, hangs gays, removes the tongues of union organizers, hangs children. Who are the crazies here?

His deal means no mention of Iran's violations of the NNPT, broken promises to the EU, or its refusal to stop enriching uranium. His plan allows Iran to address one set of questions at a time, and move on to the next set only after the inspectors have closed the file on the previous set. Since ElBaradei seems willing to dispense with those inspectors who do not pass inspection by Iran, in effect they have been selected by Iran.

This is absurd. Does ElBaradei actually believe Iran is incapable of dealing with more than one question at a time?  Iran can endlessly string out answering each set of questions. The process itself enables Iran to continue its program to master the nuclear cycle

The absurdity was too much for even some in the EU. When representatives from the EU registered objections to his plan and the current EU president voiced objections in a speech at a meeting of the IAEA, Elbaradei arrogantly stalked out of the meeting in a huff.

Iran has welcomed this plan, and in concert with Elbaradei, announced that negotiations are over, that Iran's nuclear program is a closed matter, and an issue that will be exclusively dealt with by the IAEA under Mohammed ElBaradei.

Elbaradei has critics. His assumption of the role as chief diplomat with Iran has ruffled feathers. Secretary of State Condeeleeza Rice stated,
"The IAEA is not in the business of diplomacy. The IAEA is a technical agency that has a board of governors of which the United States is a member...It is not up to anybody to diminish or to begin to cut back on the obligations that the Iranians have been ordered to take."
This is not the only area where he has clearly overstepped his boundaries. He has been highly critical of Israel, a nation that never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and is not governed by its provisions. ElBaradei has shifted attention and criticism away from Iran and toward Israel, further aiding Iran in its efforts to muddle diplomacy.

Criticism has even recently come from parties that. The New York Times, which normally genuflects to the United Nations and to its various agencies, recently published a front-page profile of ElBaradei that was atypical.  Instead of the usual fawning one when dealing with international officials, the article portrayed a man given to touches of megalomania (no wonder he gets along so well with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad), a man who is derisive of views that do not comport with his own, a man who is "incurious" regarding evidence that would cloud his own predetermined opinions. He has become a tyrant within the IAEA -- a man who makes absurd agreements (really capitulations) that allow a regime that has openly proclaimed its desire to commit genocide the ability to develop nuclear weapons.

ElBaradei may suffer from a malady that all too often seems to afflict Nobel Peace Prize winners -- particularly those who are granted the Prize in order to embarrass the current American administration. The chairman of the Nobel committee who granted Jimmy Carter the Prize stated that giving the award to Carter
"should be interpreted as a criticism of the line that the current Administration has taken...It's a kick in the leg to all that follow the same line as the United States."
ElBaradei was awarded a Nobel Peace prize while he was subject to heated criticism by the Bush Administration for his refusal to deal forthrightly with Iran, a time when America was seeking his ouster. Both Carter and ElBaradei apparently consider it their mission to use their medal to oppose everything America proposes. Personal pique is apparently not above Nobel Peace Prize winners (then again neither was terrorism: see Yasser Arafat's biography).

As Iranian nuclear centrifuges spin away and Iran masters the technology needed to develop nuclear weapons, the world has outsourced its plan to prevent this from happening to a man who is clearly unsuitable for the task. Mohammed ElBaradei has enabled Iran to continue its quest to become a nuclear power.. In the words of George Perkovich, Vice-President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a top expert on proliferation:

ElBaradei and Iran have won this round. In August the IAEA Director General accepted what were essentially Iranian terms for answering the IAEA's outstanding questions about Iran's suspicious nuclear activities. This agreement seemed to surrender the IAEA's rights and responsibilities to conduct follow-up investigations and pursue new leads. The agreement also neglected the U.N. Security Council's legally binding demands that Iran suspend uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities as long as the IAEA is unable to satisfy itself that Iran's nuclear activities have been entirely peaceful. Yet Iran and Mr. ElBaradei hailed it as a breakthrough. ElBaradei and others who are convinced the U.S. plans to go to war against Iran felt the agreement would spare the world another catastrophe.

The P5+2 statement reveals that the Iran/IAEA deal effectively neutralized the U.S., French, U.K. effort to tighten sanctions on Iran in response to Iran's ongoing refusal to accede to U.N. Security Council resolutions. The statement basically says the world should wait and hope that Iran gives the IAEA full answers and that somehow all the outstanding issues are indeed resolved. (If this were so easy, why has Iran waited more than four years to provide such answers and suffered U.N. sanctions for failing to cooperate? 
Iran has all but announced its goals are to see Israel and America destroyed. When Iran detonates its first nuclear bomb, it will become a nuclear power in the world's most volatile region. Iran's demons will be unleashed, bringing even more violence.

Mohammed ElBaradei has been the genie that has granted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad his most fevered and ardent wish: the power to bring about a nuclear apocalypse.

Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.
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