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The former Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) said in a new published report that he had not seen "a shred of evidence" that Iran was "building nuclear-weapons facilities and using enriched materials." Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient who spent 12 years at the IAEA, told investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, "I don't believe Iran is a clear and present danger. All I see is the hype about the threat posed by Iran."
While the Bush administration claimed that aluminum tubes being delivered to Iraq were intended for enriching uranium to weapon-usable levels, U.N. inspectors on the ground determined they would be used to fire rockets, according to ElBaradei.
He delivered that information to the U.N. Security Council on January 27, 2003. One day later, Bush reaffirmed the U.S. stance on the tubes' intended use during his State of the Union address, ElBaradei noted. There were similar differences over Iraq's alleged attempts to acquire uranium from Niger and over a claim from the since-discredited source known as "Curveball" that the Hussein regime possessed mobile biological weapons laboratories (see GSN, Feb. 15).
"I was aghast at what I was witnessing," ElBaradei wrote. He characterized the invasion as "aggression where there was no imminent threat" and said he believes hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens have died in conflict over the last eight years. The question of the war's legality should be submitted to the World Court, ElBaradei stated. That being the case, "should not the International Criminal Court investigate whether this constitutes a 'war crime' as determine who is accountable?"
Hersh revealed that over the past six years, soldiers from the Joint Special Operations Force, working with Iranian intelligence assets, "put in place cutting-edge surveillance techniques" to spy on suspected Iran facilities.
# Surreptitiously removing street signs and replacing them with signs containing radiation sensors.
# Removing bricks from buildings suspected of containing nuclear enrichment activities and replacing them "with bricks embedded with radiation-monitoring devices."
# Spreading high-powered sensors disguised as stones randomly along roadways where a suspected underground weapon site was under construction.
# Constant satellite coverage of major suspect areas in Iran.
Going beyond these spy activities, two Iranian nuclear scientists last year were assassinated and Hersh says it is widely believed in Tehran that the killers were either American or Israeli agents. Hersh quotes W. Patrick Lang, a retired Army intelligence officer and former ranking Defense Intelligence Agency(DIA) analyst on the Middle East as saying that after the disaster in Iraq, "Analysts in the intelligence community are just refusing to sign up this time for a lot of baloney."
The website Politico.com reports in its May 31 issue that a senior Administration intelligence official asserted Hersh's article was nothing more than "a slanted book report."
Mohamed el Baradei is an Egyptian-born lawyer who headed the United Nations' IAEA or International Atomic Energy Agency from 1997 to 2009.
The Bush administration was an outspoken enemy of El Baradei. The administration, the Washington Post reported in 2004, "has dozens of intercepts of Mohamed ElBaradei's phone calls with Iranian diplomats and is scrutinizing them in search of ammunition to oust him as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency."
The report added that "the efforts against ElBaradei demonstrate the lengths some within the administration are willing to go to replace a top international diplomat who questioned U.S. intelligence on Iraq and is now taking a cautious approach on Iran."