Should intelligence officials in Israel be asked to choose the bad guy in this story, don’t be sure they’ll pick Khamenei, Iran’s spiritual leader, or Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president who is not directly involved in Teheran’s nuclear project.
They would not even choose Ali Larijani, the National Security Council secretary general and head of the Iranian nuclear project, who recently resigned (and who was characterized in Israel as a “a radical predator with a pleasant European appearance”).
The officials will likely choose Egyptian diplomat, Dr. Muhammad ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as the bad guy, or at least as the person who bears most of the burden in the international community’s conduct that led Iran so close to a nuclear bomb.
Even though Iran has been repeatedly caught lying; even though it admitted to acts that constitute blatant violations of the nuclear weapons non-proliferation treaty; even though there is a series of issues where IAEA experts ruled it has not provided satisfactory answers; even though it threatens time and again to put an end to inspections; even though it prevents inspectors from accessing some sites, experts, and know-how; despite all of this, ElBaradei insists, time and again, on wording his conclusions in a very lukewarm manner, and particularly his recommendations to the United Nations Security Council.
Odd Iranian explanationsEven if ElBaradei was more determined, the United States would still find it difficult to formulate an international coalition for adopting serious sanctions against Iran, but it’s clear that sharp and incisive declarations by ElBaradei, as required by the facts, would provide the US with serious ammunition and push Russia and China into a corner.
In fact, ElBaradei is providing them with an excuse to continue sitting on the fence, while they keep on maintaining immense business ties with Iran behind the world’s back. Time and again, we see an abyss between some of the factual findings, which are drafted by IAEA inspectors, to some of the conclusions and recommendations drafted by ElBaradei himself.
Just like in other matters and blatant violations that have been exposed since the Natanz facility was uncovered in 2003, every time the Iranians admitted to something it was only done when they had no other choice. In the last moment, and after the German intelligence establishment uncovered a laptop belonging to an Iranian nuclear scientist that included sketches of a nuclear warhead, Iran handed over these sketches themselves.
Iran presented this information in order to create a façade of cooperation and provide fuel to Russia and China, which are uninterested in boosting the sanctions, on the argument that the Iranians are in fact cooperating. This trick worked, and there we saw ElBaradei’s report, which was rather conciliatory in some of its conclusions.
In addition to the laptop affair, there is still a series of additional unresolved issues involving the IAEA and Iran. This includes countless odd explanations provided by Iran to documents presented by the IAEA, and even odder explanations about documents that are known to have existed, but which the Iranians claim disappeared or were destroyed.