IAEA Director General Mohammad ElBaradei has again shown whose side he is on. Less than a week after the Permanent Five and Germany issued a statement announcing a new incentives’ package for Iran, ElBaradei called on the U.S. to show more flexibility with Iran. The details of the new offer are not publicly known, but French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner defined them as “very generous.”
This proposal expands on an already-generous offer made two years ago, which Iran turned down. One would hope that, this time, the P5+1 does not follow the same course of action–despite the fact that the 2006 offer was meant to expire, the P5+1 kept it alive in the hope that Iran would change its mind–only to produce a better package two years later. One can only assume that the terms are even more advantageous for Iran: more details on nuclear technology that the West would offer Tehran, more details of the security guarantees that Iran would get in the region, more assurances about the stability of Iran’s regime, more incentives on trade. One can also assume that in Tehran the lesson being learned is that by making no concessions and being stubborn much can be gained.
Now, aside from the fact that Iran has already dismissed the offer, this history of dialogue with Iran teaches us two things: one, that the international community, U.S. included, has shown great flexibility with Iran; and two, that Iran has systematically exploited this flexibility to gain time and advance its nuclear program. Any responsible representative of the international community should not call on the U.S. to be more flexible. It should call on Iran to be more reasonable and remind them that time is running out. That ElBaradei called on the U.S. to make more concessions at a time when the U.S. is already backing yet more concessions to an inflexible and uncompromising Iran indicates that maybe the IAEA–and certainly its director–are not doing their best to stem the tide of nuclear proliferation.