The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is a very confusing group. One week they say that Iran is moving toward nuclear weapons, the next there is no evidence that Iran is moving toward nuclear weapons. Yet according to Professor Gerald Steinberg the evidence is very clear:
- The evidence that Iran is making progress towards acquiring nuclear weapons is staring everyone in the face – the banks of centrifuges from A.Q. Khan’s proliferation supermarket (used by Pakistan for its bomb) and other technology inappropriate for a civil power program; the subterfuge that kept these and other activities from the IAEA inspectors for many years; the import of components and evidence of facilities for testing weapons design.
- For over three years, the quarterly IAEA reports on Iran contained the details of violations, obstruction of inspector’s visits, important inconsistencies between official claims and the results of tests from samples taken from various facilities, and other forms of non-compliance. But the final assessment in each report, signed by the director-general, absurdly concluded that this evidence did not demonstrate that Iran was seeking nuclear weapons…..This process delayed the imposition of sanctions that might have dissuaded Iran from this path. Eventually, even the more reluctant leaders in Russia, China, and India recognized the overwhelming nature of the evidence, rejected El-Baradei’s assertions, and voted in September 2005 to officially find Iran in non-compliance with the NPT and to start the sanctions process.
Why is the IAEA director Dr. Mohammed El-Baradei perpetuating this silliness. The guy shows no evidence of being a froth at the mouth terror supporter or Israel hater so what drives him to just allow Iran to hide its nuclear intentions?
Professor Steinberg gives a few reasons:
- Revenge: In 2005, the Bush Administration opposed his selection for a third term as director-general, but they failed to get much support in the Board of Governors. El-Baradei’s support of Iran is the most effective form of retaliation against the United States.
- Its Easier than a confrontation: El-Baradei may have chosen what he sees as the path of least resistance by acquiescing to Iran’s aspirations to become a nuclear power. This was also the dominant view in Europe, at least until the rise of Ahmadinejad and the realization that stable deterrence based on the U.S.-Soviet Cold War model was not applicable to a nuclear-armed Iran.
- Trying to Prevent a US attack: After having failed to prevent the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the IAEA’s director-general may now be overcompensating by embracing the Iranian claims in the hope of preventing a military attack on Iran. His angry reaction to unconfirmed reports that Israel destroyed a North Korean-built nuclear reactor in Syria, and the demand that information on NPT violations be provided to the IAEA for action, can also be understood as an attempt to salvage the agency’s severely damaged reputation. But if this is El-Baradei’s objective, his complicity in the Iranian effort to acquire nuclear weapons and the obvious attempt to cover-up the evidence is counterproductive. The further that Iran advances, the higher the probability of confrontation and military action in the next two to four years.
- Is it too late to avoid a confrontation with Iraq? Dr. Mohammed El-Baradei has started to echo Iranian claims to be beyond the “point of no return” in enriching uranium to the level required for weapons – a boast that the IAEA’s own data does not support. This has cast the IAEA as a target for derision and ridicule and led some key professionals to leave the agency.
The fact is that it is not too late for sanctions to work. But only through IAEA honesty can the security council rally enough support for effective sanctions to work, Right now it seems that the IAEA and the ego of its Chairman Dr. Mohammed El-Baradei is a major roadblock to a peaceful solution. I suggest strongly that you click on Why Are the IAEA and Dr. Mohammed El-Baradei Protecting Iran? and read Professor Seinberg’s full report.