In the name of democratic reform, Mohammed ElBaradei is doing his best to appear as the annointed one to succeed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek, should the government fall. In reality, ElBaradei has more in common with Iranian demagogue Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than anything remotely resembling democracy. He is the former Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), where his primary legacy was running interference for Iran and ensuring that Iran is now on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons.
Year-after-year for a decade, ElBaradei used his position at the IAEA to stall for time on behalf of Iran. In September 2005 ElBaradei helped push the issue off the Security Council table and bragged: "I am encouraged that the issue has not been referred to the Security Council, precisely to give time for diplomacy and negotiation." Typical of his foot-dragging was his February 2006 report: "Although the Agency has not seen any diversion of nuclear material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, the Agency is not at this point in time in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran. The process of drawing such a conclusion ... is a time consuming process."
In January 2007, in the midst of growing calls for sanctions against Iran, ElBaradei suggested a "time-out." In September 2007, with stiffer sanctions on the horizon, ElBaradei again called for a "time-out." In January 2008 the IAEA reported: "ElBaradei has repeatedly noted that ... the IAEA has not seen any diversion of material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices."
As soon as ElBaradei was finally replaced as IAEA head early last year, his successor Yukiya Amano attempted to distance himself from the obvious cover-up. He issued a report in which the IAEA, for the first time, said things like - on the basis of "extensive" and "credible" information the IAEA now has "concerns about the possible existence in Iran of ... current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile," and "concerns about possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program.''
If El Baradei were ever to become President of Egypt, not only would he have helped Iran acquire nuclear weapons, he would undoubtedly turn around and lead the charge for an Egyptian nuclear weapon. Nobel Prize notwithstanding, his calling card is to cast nuclear proliferation as some kind of equal rights game between developed and developing countries.
Here is the frightening interview he gave to the Financial Times on February 19, 2007 that indicates the kind of Iranian look-alike which is in the making: “Iran sees enrichment... as a strategic goal because they feel that this will bring them power, prestige and influence...[A] lot of that is true. A nuclear capability is a nuclear deterrent in many ways...When you see here in the UK the programme for modernising Trident, which basically gets the UK far into the 21st century with a nuclear deterrent, it is difficult then for us to turn around and tell everybody else that nuclear deterrents are really no good for you...”
Reports out of Egypt directly connecting ElBaradei's political ambitions with Tehran surfaced last September via a political rival, Abdul Mabboud. A story translated from Egyptian Newspaper Al Youm Al Sabeh last September said: "in a communication to the Attorney General of Egypt, Dr. Yasser Najib Abdel Mabboud, has accused Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei...of receiving funds exceeding $7 million (US) from Iran’s leadership as support for ‘political reform in Egypt’." The story claimed that "the check in the amount of $ 7 million is said to be meant to cover the financial costs of the election campaign and the activities of the Front for Change."
The shoe sure seems to fit. ElBaradei told CNN's Fareed Zakaria Sunday that: "The Muslim Brotherhood ...has nothing to do with extremism...[T]hey have a lot of credibility...And I have been reaching out to them." Actually, ElBaradei's comrade-in-arms is a viciously antisemitic and anti-Western organization that would send Egyptian women back to the stone ages and rupture peace agreements with Israel as a warm-up act.
If the Obama administration throws Mubarek overboard in the immediate future with nothing but an ElBaradei-Muslim Brotherhood front man in the wings, Egyptians will be farther away from democracy than they ever were and the rest of the world will be a far more dangerous place
Anne Bayefsky is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.