Iran’s Diplomatic Effort to Undermine Sanctions Push Aided by ElBaradei

James Phillips /

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator released a vague statement Tuesday indicating that Iran will soon offer a diplomatic proposal concerning the standoff over its refusal to abide by its commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Saeed Jalili, who also heads the country’s Supreme National Security Council, told reporters that:

Iran has prepared to present its revised package of proposals . . . and is ready to hold talks with world powers . . . in order to ease common concerns in the international arena.

This statement, made on the eve of a conference in Germany to discuss the U.N. Security Council’s next move on Iran, is yet another Iranian attempt to undercut international efforts to pressure it to abide by its legal commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

If Tehran was serious, it would respond directly to members of the U.N. Security Council in a substantive fashion, not cavalierly issue a nebulous statement to the media. But the White House indicated that it had received no communication from Tehran about any proposal. The German Foreign Ministry, which is hosting a meeting of the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany), told reporters that the group had still not received a response from Iran about its offer in April for face-to-face talks. A foreign ministry spokesman said: “They know our number. We hope that the press reports will be followed by something substantial.”

Meanwhile, the Iranians were not the only ones issuing public statements that undercut mounting momentum to bring international pressure to bear on Tehran. Incredibly, Mohammed ElBaradei, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists in an interview released Tuesday that: “In many ways, I think the threat has been hyped.”

ElBaradei claimed that “I’m merely someone who is trying to do his job.” But it is extremely difficult to understand how downplaying the seriousness of Iran’s violations of its nuclear safeguard agreements on the eve of an international conference on precisely that issue makes it any easier for El Baradei or IAEA inspectors to secure Iran’s full cooperation. Once again, ElBaradei has undermined western efforts to curtail Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

For more on Iran, see: Iran Briefing Room