WASHINGTON (JTA) — The director of the U.S. Jewish foreign policy umbrella called Mohammed ElBaradei, the opposition leader emerging from the Egyptian ferment, a "stooge of Iran."
Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice-president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, accused ElBaradei of covering up Iran’s true nuclear weaponization capacities while he directed the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog.
"He is a stooge of Iran, and I don’t use the term lightly," Hoenlein said in an online recorded interview with Yeshiva World News on the Egyptian crisis. "He fronted for them, he distorted the reports."
ElBaradei, who directed the IAEA from 1997 to 2009, returned to Egypt following his third term. Soon he was touted as a possible challenger to the 30-year autocracy led by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Since protests were launched last week, ElBaradei has emerged as a consensus candidate of various opposition groups for transitional leader.
In addition to slamming ElBaradei, Hoenlein criticized the successive U.S. administrations for failing to achieve an orderly transition to democracy in Egypt. The Bush administration’s democracy initiative was ineffective and then the Obama administration essentially abandoned the cause, Hoenlein said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has adopted a policy of not commenting on the breaking developments, not wanting to be seen as siding with any player in the Egyptian unrest. Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt is the cornerstone of its defense and foreign policies.
During his term as IAEA chief, ElBaradei said Iran was further away from a nuclear weapon than many in the West claimed and castigated Western powers, including Israel, for suggesting that a military option against Iran was increasingly possible.
ElBaradei made it clear in those statements that his posture stemmed from the U.S. failure to heed warnings from him and other weapons experts that Iraq did not have a nuclear weapons capacity. Despite the warnings, the United States attacked Iraq.
He criticized Iran for not cooperating with IAEA inspectors, but also argued that the likeliest means of increasing inspections was to engage with Iran.
His outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq and increased pressure on Iran earned him the enmity of some Bush administration officials. U.S. agencies reportedly monitored his communications to see if he was colluding with Iran but came up with nothing.