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August 25, 2006

Iran's Ties with ElBaradei

The following comes in from an emailer wishing to remain anonymous. The emailer is a research analyst whose work crosses the path with the IAEA.

It is said that the hostilities between Israel and Hizballah were initiated by Iran in order to divert international attention from the Iranian nuclear file. This diversion of public attention paid off when the Security Council's decision of 31 July, 2006 - that demands Iran suspend its enrichment activities - did not receive media coverage corresponding to its importance. However, Iran is not the only one profiting from the absence of public focus on its nuclear entanglement. Someone else also gained from the situation - the IAEA director, El-Baradei.

The Security Council resolution determines that El-Baradei must report to it by 31 August 2006, on the extent that Iran has complied with its resolution. If Iran has not complied, which is the current situation, this would give unprecedented legitimacy to the Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran according to Clause 41 of Section 7 and for the first time to significantly undermine Iran's efforts to achieve nuclear weapons. Lacking significant media coverage on the issue, El-Baradei can once again defend Iran, as he has done in recent years, produce a feeble report that conflicts with the reality of inspectors' findings and give Iran the time it needs to progress towards producing a nuclear weapon.

This is not a prophecy of doom or cheap demagoguery. There are many who agree with this gloomy picture I describe, including inside the IAEA itself.

In my line of work I have come into contact with people in the IAEA who naturally are afraid to express their views in public. In conversations with them a short while ago, there was cautious optimism after the German newspaper 'Die Welt' published details about the dismissal of Chris Charlier, one of the senior IAEA inspectors in charge of the Iranian nuclear issue, simply because his conclusions were unsympathetic towards Iran. These people hoped that the details revealed in the media would force the IAEA to set its house in order, despite the person at its head, and thereby expose the relationship between Iran and El-Baradei, who has on too many occasions been Iran's savior. But nothing has come of this affair. On the contrary, El-Baradei did his utmost to prevent sullying Iran's name and to conceal the affair as quickly as possible. The resentment of my colleges in the IAEA and their astonishment only grew when it came out that in recognition of El-Baradei's conduct Iran sent him 'gifts' - including extremely expensive traditional carpets of the highest quality (one Persian carpet could be valued as high as 50,000 euros.)

And what of the IAEA's reaction to El-Baradei's actions? There is no reaction. Because there is no one to demand a reaction. In the absence of an appropriate reaction, El-Baradei can continue to compliment Iran about its insignificant gestures and won't let the facts confuse him when he comes to writing up his conclusions and presenting them to the Security Council.

We cannot force the media to cover these issues (free media and the right to know is not something clear for a journalist who is exposed to the IAEA pressures) but we can demand answers from the IAEA. I call on you to approach the IAEA and demand clear answers about El-Baradei's improper actions. Can the Nobel Prize that El-Baradei received continue to serve as his fig leaf forever?

Is it the news concerning Chris Charlier, the former lead inspector in Iraq before Iran asked ElBaradei to fire him, that is most troubling to me. After Die Welt published the account, there was no coverage elsewhere. It was as if news that the lead inspector in Iraq coming to the conclusion Iran was building a bomb and before being pushed out by Iran is not actually news. Now what of the added gifts presented to ElBaradei? I have very little trust for the IAEA because of its head.

Posted by Chad at August 25, 2006 12:38 PM

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