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Mr. El Baradei's Secrets

12:39 PM, Nov 17, 2009 • By RACHEL ABRAMS
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Where lie the sympathies of the UN nuclear watchdog agency's chief dog has been no secret: Mohammed El Baradei earned his 2005 Nobel Peace Prize not for shepherding rogue states to denuclearization-on the contrary, North Korea and Iran spent his (soon-to-be-over) watch as head of the IAEA in a frenzy of development and proliferation-but rather for spending his years in the anti-nuke saddle singling out the Bush administration and Israel for vicious criticism. Beyond his purview, maybe, and very non-aligned-movementy of him, but bad sympathies alone do their mischief only in the ether. It's where reverse transubstantiation occurs-words into deeds-that the real harm lies, and Mr. El Baradei has been engaging in some of that recently, securing a legacy he may one day wish he hadn't.

In August, the AP revealed he'd been sitting for a year on "compelling" intelligence about Iran's active pursuit of "research into developing nuclear warheads and the way to deliver them"; in September, the French foreign minister excoriated him for omitting this crucial information from his report to the Agency's September 14 General Conference; in October, he described a newly-uncovered secret nuclear site near Qom as "a hole in the mountain . . . nothing to be worried about," suggesting at best an extremely poor job of inspecting, and at worst shameful-treasonous?-colluding. And just today, TimesOnline reports that Mr. El Baradei has conspired secretly with the Iranian despots on the formulation of a "deal to persuade world powers to lift sanctions and allow Tehran to retain the bulk of its nuclear programme in return for co-operation with UN inspectors."

How beautiful the irony that the UN's chief champion of a nuke-free peace is a collaborator with tyrants threatening the destruction of Israel, and that the defense of the West on this issue has been left to France. Yet there's some comfort in knowing Mr. El Baradei's days there are numbered-the moment of his retirement cannot come too soon-and in believing the UN will be hard-put to find someone worse to fill his shoes.