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ElBaradei Speaks (like a child)

John on April 13, 2009 at 10:55 am

Last week he issued a “no comment” about the revelation by NY prosecutors that Iran had been illegally and secretly pursing nuclear and missle technology and equipment during the same years the IAEA was bashing Bush for saber rattling.

Today, ElBaradei is addressing the controversy through the friendly megaphone of the NY Times:

For Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, “a combination of ignorance and arrogance” under the Bush administration squandered countless diplomatic opportunities with Iran and so allowed it to forge ahead with its nuclear program.

Instead of building on Iran’s Afghan help in 2001, exploring an Iranian “grand bargain” offer in 2003, or backing 2005 European mediation that hinged on the U.S. agreeing to sale of a French nuclear power reactor, “We got Darth Vader and company saying Iran was in the axis of evil and we have to change this regime.”

So the leader of the IAEA, having been proven a fool for believing Iranian promises about not wanting a bomb, is now calling playground names at the very people who correctly anticipated where this would lead.

According to ElBaradei, those centrifuges are all Bush’s fault:

The result, ElBaradei said, was that instead of containing the program at a few dozen centrifuges, “Iran now has close to 5,500 centrifuges, and they have 1,000 kilos of low enriched uranium, and they have the know-how.” Still, he dismissed the notion that Iran “could go to a weapon tomorrow” as “hype,” putting the time frame for that at two to five years.

Over at Patterico’s place, Karl helpfully points out the companion piece to ElBaradei’s ravings. It paints a somewhat different picture of how we got here:

On June 14, 2008, for example, Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, Mr. Khatami’s spokesman, debated advisers to current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the University of Gila in northern Iran. Mr. Ramezanzadeh criticized Mr. Ahmadinejad for his defiant rhetoric, and counseled him to accept the Khatami approach: “We should prove to the entire world that we want power plants for electricity. Afterwards, we can proceed with other activities,” Mr. Ramezanzadeh said. The purpose of dialogue, he argued further, was not to compromise, but to build confidence and avoid sanctions. “We had an overt policy, which was one of negotiation and confidence building, and a covert policy, which was continuation of the activities,” he said.

The strategy was successful. While today U.S. and European officials laud Mr. Khatami as a peacemaker, it was on his watch that Iran built and operated covertly its Natanz nuclear enrichment plant and, at least until 2003, a nuclear weapons program as well.

Iran’s responsiveness to diplomacy is a mirage. After two years of talks following exposure of its Natanz facility, Tehran finally acquiesced to a temporary enrichment suspension, a move which Secretary of State Colin Powell called “a little bit of progress,” and the EU hailed.

But, just last Sunday, Hassan Rowhani, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator at the time, acknowledged his government’s insincerity. The Iranian leadership agreed to suspension, he explained in an interview with the government-run news Web site, Aftab News, “to counter global consensus against Iran,” adding, “We did not accept suspension in construction of centrifuges and continued the effort. . . . We needed a greater number.” What diplomats considered progress, Iranian engineers understood to be an opportunity to expand their program.

In short, the engagement that ElBaradei claims would have saved the day was tried and accomplished nothing but to give the Iranians more time to pursue their goals in secret. ElBaradei has done nothing but buy the regime time and shield it from anyone who might take an aggressive line against them and their activities. This is the definition of “useful idiot.”

ElBaradei has been wrong all along. Maybe it’s time to start listening to Darth Vader.

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Category: Foreign Affairs |

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