Israeli official: ElBaradei's comments on Iran are irrelevant
Israeli official: IAEA head, who called sanctions a "failure," is himself a "resounding failure."
By HERB KEINON
Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem dismissed as "irrelevant" Saturday night comments made by Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who said efforts to stop Iran's nuclear march have been a failure.
"We haven't really moved one inch toward addressing the issues," ElBaradei told The Los Angeles Times in an interview published Friday. "I think so far the policy has been a failure."
ElBaradei, the 66-year-old Egyptian diplomat who will retire next year and who was frequently at odds with the Bush Administration, said US President-elect Barack Obama gave him "lots of hope."
"He is ready to talk to his adversaries - enemies, if you like - including Iran, also [North] Korea," he said. "To continue to pound the table and say, 'I am not going to talk to you,' and act in a sort of a very condescending way - that exaggerates problems."
In retrospect, the sanctions may have led to "more hardening of the position of Iran," said ElBaradei, who won the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.
"Many Iranians who even dislike the regime [are] gathering around the regime because they feel that country is under siege," he said.
In June, ElBaradei, whose organization is meant to be a watchdog that prevents nuclear weapons proliferation, warned against military action to stop Iran, saying it would turn the Middle East into a "ball of fire."
Having taken a military option off the table, and now saying that sanctions don't work, ElBaradei, according to the Times, favored a "grand bargain" between the West and Iran that would recognize Iran's role in the region and give it "the power, the prestige, the influence" it desires.
ElBaradei said the US and Iran should not only talk about the nuclear issue, but also about Iranian grievances against the US that go back more than 50 years.
ElBaradei's words were flatly disregarded in Jerusalem.
"His record as head of the IAEA is one of resounding failures," one diplomatic official said. "His opinion is interesting, but it is the opinion of someone who has announced he will retire and, as he said in the interview, has bought a home in the south of France. His opinion now is no more significant than that of the man on the street."
The official said that ElBaradei would be judged by the fact that during his tenure Syria, Libya, North Korea and Iran all had nuclear programs.
"The IAEA failed in all four cases," the official said. "The problems in Libya and North Korea were solved by a process led by the Americans, and in Syria, someone else needed to do the work," he said, alluding to the IAF attack on an alleged nuclear installation there in 2007.
In light of those failures, the official said, and since ElBaradei has admitted in the past that his organization failed in Iran, "questions must be raised abut his job and the role of the IAEA."
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