ElBaradei Fights Off Drumbeat For Iran War, Warns Pre-War Iraq Failures Are Being Repeated

baradeiBy all accounts, there is an increasing clamor in recent weeks from the right-wing for military action against Iran. U.S. News writes that calls for “stronger actions are intensifying, including among some U.S. officials.” Last week, Fox News reported that German officials were giving up on new sanctions against Iran, helping push the U.S. closer to a decision on a military strike.

Even French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner is now warning the world to prepare for a war against Iran, arguing that an atomic weapon in that country’s hands would represent “a real danger for the whole world.” The leading voice of restraint thus far has been Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

Today, Baradei chastised Kouchner, saying “I would not talk about any use of force” except as a last resort. Recall, Baradei was one of the largely-ignored voices in the lead-up to the Iraq war. He warned there was “no evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear-related activities in Iraq.” He was later smeared by the administration, but ultimately vindicated as the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize for getting it right.

Now, Baradei is sounding the alarms about an impending Iran war based on false intelligence. Here are some statements he has made in recent days that have been largely ignored in the U.S. media:

“I have made it very clear that I don’t see today a clear and present danger in regard to the Iran nuclear programme. [Link]”

“We haven’t received any smoking gun,” ElBaradei said. … ElBaradei said the talk of bombing made him “shudder” because the rhetoric was reminiscent of the period before the Iraq war. [Link]

“Based on the evidence we have, we do not see … a clear and present danger that requires that you go beyond diplomacy.” … [H]e called for an end to the pounding of the “war drums from those who are basically saying ‘the solution is bomb Iran.’” [Link]

To compound matters for Baradei, he is again having to fight off false intelligence reports. The BBC reports that the IAEA is calling a congressional report on Iran’s nuclear activity “erroneous” and “misleading” for asserting Iran was further ahead in its development that it really is. “There are rules on how to use force, and I would hope that everybody would have gotten the lesson after the Iraq situation, where 70,000 innocent civilians have lost their lives on the suspicion that a country has nuclear weapons,” he said.

If Baradei is able to stave off U.S. attempts to make the sale for war against Iran on nuclear grounds, the administration appears ready to claim that Iran’s cross-border activity in Iraq may justify military action. The Guardian reports, “The growing US focus on confronting Iran in a proxy war inside Iraq risks triggering a direct conflict in the next few months.”

UPDATE: On Friday, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) sent a letter to President Bush on Iran telling him that the 9/11 Authorization for Use of Military Force does not cover any military actions against Iran. Dodd called on Bush to appoint a special envoy to Iran to invigorate US diplomacy.