Prior to the Iraq war, International Atomic Energy Agency chairman Mohammed ElBaradei warned there was “no evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear-related activities in Iraq.” He was subsequently smeared by the administration, but ultimately vindicated as the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize for getting it right.
Today on CNN, ElBaradei sounded alarms about the Bush administration’s increasingly hawkish rhetoric in regards to Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions. “We have the time” to use diplomacy, ElBaradei urged. There is “no military solution” with Iran:
I very much have concern about confrontation, building confrontation, Wolf, because that would lead absolutely to a disaster. I see no military solution. The only durable solution is through negotiations and inspections. … My fear if that we continue to escalate from both sides from both sides that we would end up into a precipice, we would end up into an abyss.
ElBaradei poured water over Vice President Cheney’s confident declaration last week that “Iran is pursuing technology that could be used to develop nuclear weapons. The world knows this.” While ElBaradei did not rule out Iran having an “intent” to obtain nuclear weapons, he explained that there is no evidence that Iran is currently pursuing such a program right now:
I have not received any information that there is a concrete, active nuclear weapon program going on right now. … We have information that there have been maybe some studies about possible weaponization. But we are looking into these alleged studies with Iran right now. … But have we seen having the nuclear material that can be readily used into a weapon? No. Have we seen an active weaponization program? No. So there is a concern, but there is also time to clarify these concerns.
ElBaradei also urged the U.S. to halt its fiery rhetoric and directly engage Iran in talks: “The earlier we go into negotiation, the earlier we follow the North Korean model, the better for everybody.”