February 25, 2008

The Ironic IAEA

Mohammed ElBaradei has issued a new IAEA finding that states Iranian explanations of its nuclear activities -- with one glaring exception --are "consistent" with the agency's own findings. Danielle Pletka and Michael Rubin slam ElBaradai in today's Wall Street Journal for his agenda in assisting Iran in hiding the true nature of its nuclear activities, and of hiding behind his Nobel Peace Prize to do so:

The report represents Mr. ElBaradei's best effort to whitewash Tehran's record. Earlier this month, on Iranian television, he made clear his purpose, announcing that he expected "the issue would be solved this year." And if doing so required that he do battle against the IAEA's technical experts, reverse previous conclusions about suspect programs, and allow designees of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad an unprecedented role in crafting a "work plan" that would allow the regime to receive a cleaner bill of health from the IAEA -- so be it.

Mr. ElBaradei's report culminates a career of freelancing and fecklessness which has crippled the reputation of the organization he directs. He has used his Nobel Prize to cultivate an image of a technocratic lawyer interested in peace and justice and above politics. In reality, he is a deeply political figure, animated by antipathy for the West and for Israel on what has increasingly become a single-minded crusade to rescue favored regimes from charges of proliferation.

Mr. ElBaradei assumed the directorship on Dec. 1, 1997. On his watch, but undetected by his agency, Iran constructed its covert enrichment facilities and, according to the 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, engaged in covert nuclear-weapons design. India and Pakistan detonated nuclear devices. A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani nuclear godfather, exported nuclear technology around the world.

In 2003, Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi confessed to an undetected weapons effort. Mr. ElBaradei's response? He rebuked the U.S. and U.K. for bypassing him. When Israel recently destroyed what many believe was a secret (also undetected) nuclear facility in Syria, Mr. ElBaradei told the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh that it is "unlikely that this building was a nuclear facility," although his agency has not physically investigated the site.

ElBaradei does have an enthusiasm for helping Iran escape the consequences for its nuclear research. Tehran fooled the IAEA for almost a decade while it worked on nuclear weapons, including several years while ElBaradei ran the agency. After the discovery of their attempt to construct a nuclear weapon, ElBaradei remained strangely credulous of their later denials, even though the Iranians have never let the IAEA into suspect facilities such as Parchin.

As with other international regulatory boards and commissions, the IAEA seems more focused on opposing the US rather than stopping nuclear-arms proliferation. This comes as a piece to the UN Human Rights Council, which took up its anti-West, anti-Israeli business right where it left off from the old Human Rights Committee after a change of letterhead. The IAEA and the UN seem determined to prove that pursuit of multilateral bureaucracies are a folly that cannot long be suffered if one wants real security against real threats.

And ironically, the IAEA is helping to undermine the UN. While the UN Security Council tries to contain Iran and take the threat from the mullahcracy seriously, ElBaradei's pronouncements make gridlock at the UNSC all but inevitable. His rosy reports give Russia and China an excuse to drag their feet on confronting Tehran, which will inevitably force the US, France, and UK to seek solutions that bypass Turtle Bay. As Pletka and Rubin conclude, the IAEA is working overtime to make a military solution the only option left on the table.

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