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ElBaradei Meeting Nets No Progress...For the West

ElBaradei went to Iran and nothing happened. Or did it? While the current theme in the reporting is that ElBaradei met with Iranian negotiators and left frustrated with no progress, perhaps that is lending some assumption to the tone and demeanor of the director of the IAEA.

Before ElBaradei met with the Iranians, Ahmadinejad did indeed set the Iranian tone. He announced that Iran was indeed working on the more efficient P2 version of uranium centrifuges and, to those who are angry at Iran’s clandestine nuclear program, he offered an unveiled, defiant response. “Our answer to those who are angry about Iran obtaining the full nuclear cycle is one phrase. We say, be angry and die of this anger.”

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s response was clear and immediate when she said that “when the Security Council reconvenes, there will have to be some consequence.” But there is clearly little hope in any decisive action coming from the UN Security Council or any other UN body, including ElBaradei’s IAEA.

Consider first the language used by ElBaradei following his widely anticipated yet fruitless meeting in Tehran. In the New York Times report, Dr. ElBaradei is quoted as saying that he hoped he could “convince Iran to take confidence-building measures, including suspension of uranium enrichment activities, until outstanding issues are clarified.”

But the Iranian media report has a more extensive set of quotes from ElBaradei that leave much to be desired from the man tasked by the UN Security Council (and the world) with uncovering the nature of the Iranian program.

“I’ve come to Tehran to discuss with Iranian officials to resolve the remaining issues in the way of verifying Iranian nuclear program.” This from the IAEA director was followed by “I conveyed the request of the international community to Iran to suspend enrichment for a specific period.” So far, so good. But then it gets troubling.

We have done our inspection works. No diversion has been found and Iran has the right to enjoy nuclear energy. But, What I’m insisting is that Iran should not deal with the matter emotionally. The request is that Iran suspend uranium enrichment for a specific period for confidence-building with the international community. I hope we will have good cooperation in future with Iran if Iran helps resolve the remaining issues on the table.”

ElBaradei followed this by adding, “I’m pleased with Iran’s readiness to hold dialogue to resolve them.”

No diversion has been found? What of their 18+ years of secrecy and concealment? What of the orders from the Mayor of Tehran to fell trees surrounding a razed plant because they contained radioactive traces of activity at the once active Lavizan nuclear facility? What of Iran’s denials of the existence of various plants until confronted with undeniable evidence to the contrary? What then also of their defiance in the face of ElBaradei’s own inspectors when they removed IAEA cameras and ripped seals from equipment in front of their eyes? The list of defiance and diversion is exhaustive.

It is again three steps forward and one step back, if ElBaradei’s kinder, gentler words are to be heeded by the Iranians.

During this tripartite approach, the Iranians take three steps forward, then one back, and end up well on their way to acquiring nuclear weapons. Despite all the passive-aggressive noisemaking, they push insidiously onward with development, then pause when they have gone too far, allow some negotiations, then are right back at it.

It is unsettling that ElBaradei’s presence brings more comfort to the Iranians amid their nuclear sprint than to anyone else. His presence and language brings more consternation to the West than to the suspect Iranian regime.

Considering the gentle – even acquiescent – language used by ElBaradei with the Iranians, it causes pause and makes one wonder, just what was the purpose of this visit? Indeed, as defiant as Ahmadinejad’s words are, he seems emboldened by ElBaradei’s presence. This is disconcerting.

Why is that? Why is it that Mohamed ElBaradei brings the West more consternation than the deceptive and less than forthright Iranian regime whose nuclear program he is tasked with inspecting and uncovering?