IAEA undercutting U.S. on Iran nukes

By WND Staff

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The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed El Baradei, is complicating U.S. efforts to pressure Iran into giving up its covert nuclear weapons program, according to U.S. officials.

Last week, John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said Iran’s “large-scale, covert, nuclear weapons program” poses a “fundamental” challenge to the world.

El Baradei, an Egyptian Muslim, has been director general of the Geneva-based IAEA since 1997.

Officials said his sympathies with Islam have interfered with his ability to deal honestly with the Iranian nuclear program, which some officials say is reaching crisis proportions.

Several European nations, including Britain, France and Germany, also have taken a soft policy toward the Iranian nuclear program, which undermines U.S. government efforts to press Tehran into halting uranium enrichment.

Iran announced recently it would resume uranium enrichment it had halted following the discovery of covert nuclear facilities. U.S. officials believe the facilities are part of a nuclear weapons development program.

El Baradei has watered down the findings of several inspection teams that surveyed the Iranian facilities in an apparent effort to prevent the issue from being referred to the U.N. Security Council.

“We cannot let Iran, a leading sponsor of international terrorism, acquire nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them to Europe, most of central Asia and the Middle East, or beyond,” Bolton said. “Without serious, concerted, immediate intervention by the international community, Iran will be well on the road to doing so.”

Bolton said Iran wants to make enriched uranium and plutonium for nuclear arms and could build nuclear weapons in three years.

“The costly infrastructure Iran is building … goes well beyond any conceivable peaceful nuclear program,” he said. “The time to report this issue to the [United Nations] Security Council is long overdue. To fail to do so would risk sending a signal to would-be proliferators that there are not serious consequences for pursuing secret nuclear weapons programs.”

The IAEA is set to meet in September and could decide to send the matter to the Security Council.

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