Boim calls for ElBaradei's dismissal

Construction and housing minister is the leading candidate to be next envoy to the UN.

Boim 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Boim 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Construction and Housing Minister Ze'ev Boim, who is a leading candidate to replace Dan Gillerman as ambassador to the UN, said Saturday Israel should form an international coalition to push for the removal of Mohamed ElBaradei as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Israel Radio reported that Boim, of Kadima, during an appearance Saturday in Beersheba, said ElBaradei should be dismissed from office because he was allowing Teheran to evade punishment for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. He added that he would raise the issue with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Sunday. The IAEA is the UN's nuclear watchdog agency. The Jerusalem Post has learned, however, that Boim's idea runs against the grain of Israel's current policy, which is not to attack ElBaradei because such criticism has not been effective in the past. Last May, after ElBaradei said it was only a matter of time before Iran mastered the nuclear fuel cycle and that sanctions wouldn't stop it, Israeli government officials dealing with the issue made it known that Jerusalem felt ElBaradei was too easy on the Islamic Republic, and that his reports should have been more detailed regarding what Teheran was doing to avoid inspection, to create greater international outrage. ElBaradei's statements about whether Iran would get the bomb, and when, were deemed at the time in Jerusalem as outside his purview as IAEA head. The feeling was that his job was to make sure that his inspectors were able carry out their duties, not make pronouncements with heavy political overtones. The whispering in Jerusalem against ElBaradei stopped a few months later, however, when it was thought it would be better to engage him than to attack him. Iran, meanwhile, is expected to be the focus of the annual intelligence briefing that will be presented by the various intelligence agencies at Sunday's cabinet meeting. President Shimon Peres said in an interview published by the French newspaper Le Figaro on Saturday that Israel was not considering any unilateral military operation to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. "I would prefer to stop the development of the atomic bomb without getting thrown into a war," Peres said. The gave as examples South Africa, Libya and North Korea, and said, "Sanctions have proven in the past to be effective." The UN Security Council approved a third round of sanctions against Iran last Monday for rejecting UN demands to stop uranium enrichment. For the first time, the resolution bans trade with Iran in goods that have both civilian and military uses and authorizes inspections of sea and air shipments to and from Iran that are suspected of carrying banned items. Should sanctions fail to convince the Iranians to halt their nuclear program, Peres said Israel would use all available "non-military" options. When asked if Israel would act on its own to prevent Iran from going nuclear, the president responded with an emphatic, "Not a chance." "We are not so hasty that we will increase the Iranian threat against Israel," Peres said. "We are talking about a world problem. It is a fact that Iran possesses long-range missiles, which make it not just a problem for Israel." During the interview, Peres also accused Iran of trying to increase its influence in the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. "We cannot shut our eyes," the president warned. "If a small group of terrorists are able to arm themselves with nuclear weapons, then the whole world will lose control."