The Bush administration 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, according to three U.S. government officials.
But the diplomatic offensive will not be easy. The administration has
failed to come up with a candidate willing to oppose ElBaradei, who has run
the agency since 1997, and there is disagreement among some senior
officials over how hard to push for his removal, and what the diplomatic
costs of a public campaign against him could be.
Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, had
calls with Iranians intercepted.
Although eavesdropping, even on allies, is considered a well-worn tool of
national security and diplomacy, 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.
The intercepted calls have not produced any evidence of nefarious conduct
by ElBaradei, according to three officials who have read them. But some
within the administration believe they show ElBaradei lacks impartiality
because he tried to help Iran navigate a diplomatic crisis over its nuclear
programs. Others argue the transcripts demonstrate nothing more than
standard telephone diplomacy…