The Israeli newspaper Haaretz yesterday published a disturbing report alleging that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N.’s “nuclear watchdog”, has willfully suppressed evidence that Iran is continuing efforts to develop a nuclear weapon. Citing anonymous Israeli officials and “senior Western diplomats”, reporter Barak Ravid wrote that controversial IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei “was refraining from publishing evidence obtained by [his] inspectors over the past few months that indicate Iran was pursuing information about weaponization efforts and a military nuclear program.” If true, such irresponsible efforts to cover up critical information related to Iran’s nuclear program would be consistent with ElBaradei’s past record of downplaying Iran’s violations of its nuclear safeguard commitments and his politicization of his agency’s activities.
ElBaradei, who leaves his post at the end of the year, has maintained that the IAEA does not have any evidence that proves Tehran is pushing for an atomic bomb. But according to the Haaretz article, senior IAEA officials censored a report submitted by IAEA inspectors working in Iran, blocked it from being included in the agency’s published documents, and relegated it to a classified annex, safe from public scrutiny.
Ravid reported that American, French, and German senior officials have pressed ElBaradei to publish the information in a report slated to be released at an IAEA conference next month. ElBaradei apparently continues to balk at doing this. In his final months in office, he remains a stubborn and obtuse bureaucrat pursuing his own agenda at the expense of his agency’s mandated responsibilities. Once again, it appears that he is the “watchdog” that didn’t bark.
For more on Iranian nuclear issues, see: Iran Briefing Room