John Bolton: A Nuclear Main Event

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"John Bolton: A Nuclear Main Event"

Here’s an explosive match-up: John Bolton v. Mohamed ElBaradei.

Bolton is the Bush administration’s top expert on arms control. ElBaradei heads the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog group. For months, Bolton has led the White House campaign to oust ElBaradei from the International Atomic Energy Association, using underhanded tactics like secret wiretaps on ElBaradei’s phone and alleged leaks of false information. And if Bolton becomes the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, the two will likely butt heads again over Iran’s nuclear program.

Who can you trust? Take a look at the tale-of-the-tape below. Looks like ElBaradei scores a knock-out:

ROUND 1: WMDs IN IRAQ (PRE-WAR)

Vice President Cheney: “We believe [Hussein] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong.” (3/16/03)
ElBaradei: “We have, to date, found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq.” (3/7/03)
Winner: ElBaradei (notwithstanding Cheney’s smack talk)

ROUND 2: ALUMINUM TUBING

President Bush: “Our intelligence sources tell us that [Saddam Hussein] has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. (1/28/03)
ElBaradei: “From our analysis to date, it appears that the aluminum tubes would be consistent with the purpose stated by Iraq [for conventional rocket production].” (1/27/03)
Winner: ElBaradei (extra points for timing)

ROUND 3: BUSH’S INFAMOUS “16 WORDS”

“The most serious blunder, put forth by British intelligence and cited by President Bush in his State of the Union address, involved an assertion that Niger, the West African country, had sold tons of uranium to Iraq. The Central Intelligence Agency, as well as Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, acknowledged late last week that the documents were forged, six days after top UN nuclear weapons inspector, Mohamed ElBaradei, said his team had found the documents to lack authenticity.” (Boston Globe, 3/13/03)
Winner: ElBaradei

ROUND 4: LOOSE NUKE MATERIAL IN IRAQ

In late 2002 and early 2003, ElBaradei often warned publicly about the explosives in the Al-Qaqaa arsenal. On Jan. 9, 2003, he reported to the UN Security Council the inventory that was there. … ElBaradei sent his first warning about [looting at] the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center in Iraq to the administration on April 10 — the day after Iraqi president Saddam Hussein’s government collapsed. He also supplied U.S. officials with data about the nuclear material at the facility, 30 miles south of Baghdad. At that time, according to the IAEA, U.S. officials gave the agency “oral assurances” that U.S. forces were protecting the site. (Martin Schram, 10/29/04; Washington Post, 5/20/03)
Winner: ElBaradei

ROUND 5: WMDs IN IRAQ (POST-INVASION)

Bolton: “The evidence that Hussein had WMD programs is so overwhelming, he [Bolton] can barely understand how it is doubted.” — The Australian (7/12/03)
ElBaradei: [See pre-war assessment.]
Winner: ElBaradei, KO

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