elBARADEI AND IRAN’S NUKES….The New York Times today has a longer and slightly juicier account of last week’s contentious IAEA meeting in which Mohammed elBaradei laid out new evidence that up until a few years ago Iran had been actively pursuing nuclear bomb research:
For more than two hours, representatives to the International Atomic Energy Agency were riveted by documents, sketches and even a video that appeared to have come from Iran’s own military laboratories. The inspector said they showed work “not consistent with any application other than the development of a nuclear weapon,” according to notes taken by diplomats.
The presentation caught no one’s attention more than the Iranian representatives in the room, who deny Iran is developing atomic weapons. As they whipped out cellphone cameras to photograph the screen, Iran’s ambassador, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, nearly shouting, called the evidence baseless fabrications, the diplomats said, and warned that the agency was going down “a very dangerous road.”
Mark Leon Goldberg, as an aside, points out that IAEA megacritics Michael Rubin and Danielle Pletka, who railed against elBaradei in the Wall Street Journal last week, have yet again demonstrated remarkably poor timing:
In fact, elBaradei disclosed damning evidence about Iran’s nuclear program on the eve of an important Security Council vote on sanctions. Once again, IAEA delivers. And once again, its critics have egg on their face.
Of course, elBaradei turned out to be right about Iraq’s lack of WMD. For that, he will never be forgiven.
UPDATE: Judah Grunstein writes that although last week’s meeting may speak well for the IAEA, it isn’t necessarily a vindication of elBaradei himself:
Last week, a well-informed source I spoke to following the delivery of the report flagged the presentation — which significantly was given by Olli Heinonen, the IAEA’s head of safeguards — as evidence of the internal tension between the technical wing of the IAEA (ie. the inspectors on the ground) and the political wing (ie. ElBaradei and his circle). According to my source, Heinonen’s presentation grew out of the sentiment among the inspection teams that their “work is not faithfully reflected in ElBaradei’s statements.” He didn’t say it explicitly, but the clear implication was that the followup presentation was an attempt to end run ElBaradei, who presents the IAEA’s reports to the Board of Governors, and get the incriminating evidence directly into the record.