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Man, When Mohamed ElBaradei Says You’re in Violation of Your International Obligations …

Multilateral talks with Iran over its nuclear program are underway in Geneva. There are reports that there has been one breakout meeting between chief U.S. negotiator William Burns, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, and his Iranian counterpart, Saeed Jalili, but nothing yet about its substance. But one substantive shift: Mohamed ElBaradei, the outgoing chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, says Iran’s belated disclosure of its hidden nuclear facility at Qom is a violation of Iran’s international obligations.

The New York Times:

Officials and experts said, Iran is likely to turn up with a narrow agenda on its nuclear program, but a host of other issues, including overhauling the United Nations; giving greater voice to non-Western countries; and universal nuclear disarmament. It laid these out in a five-page proposal last month, which was met with derision by Obama administration officials.

Iran is also likely to argue that it was not legally obliged to disclose its second enrichment plant, the one whose existence was made public last week. That contention will hinge on its “safeguards agreement” with the atomic agency, which originally said Iran was not required to disclose the plant until 180 days before it put fuel into it.

The agreement was later modified to require Iran’s disclosure as soon as it decided to build the complex. Iranian officials contend that its Parliament never ratified the modification — an argument that the atomic energy agency’s director general, Mohamed ElBaradei, has rejected.

“They have been on the wrong side of the law,” said Dr. ElBaradei, who is normally circumspect and has said that fears over Iran’s nuclear program are exaggerated.

The paper might have added that ElBaradei in 2003 was a major thorn in the Bush administration’s paw for accurately stating there was no evidence to support Bush’s claims that Saddam Hussein had a nuclear weapons program. I initially messed up the obligations-violation question myself, so I’m not going to harp on the subject, but still.

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