Chalk one up for the good guys.  The Bush administration has failed in its attempts to unseat Mohammed ElBaradei, the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Key members of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency reappointed Mohammed ElBaradei for a third term as head of the organization Monday after the Bush administration last week publicly dropped its opposition to him.

Washington had accused ElBaradei of being too mild on Iran and of trying to obstruct the invasion of Iraq by questioning U.S intelligence that asserted Saddam Hussein had a nuclear arms program.

Let’s look at ElBaradei’s statement to the United Nations Security Council on the eve of the invasion of Iraq (March 7, 2003) to see what Bushco had against ElBaradei….

Mr. President, my report to the council today is an update on the status of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s nuclear verification activities in Iraq pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1441 and other relevant resolutions.

When I reported last to the council on February 14, I explained that the agency’s inspection activities has moved well beyond the reconnaissance phase — that is, re-establishing our knowledge base regarding Iraq nuclear capabilities — into the investigative phase, which focuses on the central question before the IAEA relevant to disarmament — whether Iraq has revived or attempted to revive its defunct nuclear weapons program over the last four years.

Mr. President, in the last few weeks, Iraq has provided a considerable volume of documentation relevant to the issues I reported earlier as being of particular concern, including Iraq’s efforts to procure aluminum tubes, its attempted procurement of magnets and magnets-production capabilities and its reported attempt to import uranium.

I will touch briefly on the progress made on each of these issues.

Since my last update to the council, the primary technical focus of IAEA field activities in Iraq has been on resolving several outstanding issues related to the possible resumption of efforts by Iraq to enrich uranium through the use of centrifuge. For that purpose, the IAEA assembled a specially qualified team of international centrifuge manufacturing experts.

With regard to the aluminum tubes, the IAEA has conducted a thorough investigation of Iraq’s attempt to purchase large quantities of high-strength aluminum tubes. As previously reported, Iraq has maintained that these aluminum tubes were sold for rocket production.

Extensive field investigation and document analysis have failed to uncover any evidence that Iraq intended to use these 81-millimeter tubes for any project other than the reverse engineering of rockets.

With respect to reports about Iraq efforts to import high-strength permanent magnets or to achieve the capability for producing such magnets for use in a centrifuge enrichment program, I should note that since 1998 Iraq has purchased high-strength magnets for various uses.

Iraq has declared inventories of magnets of 12 different designs. The IAEA has verified that previously acquired magnets have been used for missile guidance systems, industrial machinery, electricity meters and field telephones.

Through visits to research and production sites, review of engineering drawings and analysis of sample magnets, the IAEA experts familiar with the use of such magnets in centrifuge enrichment have verified that none of the magnets that Iraq has declared could be used directly for centrifuge magnetic bearings.

In June 2001, Iraq signed a contract for a new magnet production line for delivery and installation in 2003. The delivery has not yet occurred, and Iraqi documentations and interviews of Iraqi personnel indicate that this contract will not be executed.

With regard to uranium acquisition, the IAEA has made progress in its investigation into reports that Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger in recent years. The investigation was centered on documents provided by a number of states that pointed to an agreement between Niger and Iraq for the sale of uranium between 1999 and 2001.

Based on thorough analysis, the IAEA has concluded with the concurrence of outside experts that these documents which formed the basis for the report of recent uranium transaction between Iraq and Niger are in fact not authentic. We have therefore concluded that these specific allegations are unfounded. However, we will continue to follow up any additional evidence if it emerges relevant to efforts by Iraq to illicitly import nuclear materials.

At this stage, the following can be stated:

One, there is no indication of resumed nuclear activities in those buildings that were identified through the use of satellite imagery as being reconstructed or newly erected since 1998, nor any indication of nuclear-related prohibited activities at any inspected sites.

Second, there is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import uranium since 1990.

Three, there is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import aluminum tubes for use in centrifuge enrichment. Moreover, even had Iraq pursued such a plan, it would have encountered practical difficulties in manufacturing centrifuge out of the aluminum tubes in question.

Fourth, although we are still reviewing issues related to magnets and magnet-production, there is no indication to date that Iraq imported magnets for use in centrifuge enrichment program.

After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapon program in Iraq.

13 days later, George Bush launched the first public attack against Iraq.  In the face of contradictory testimony from the person who should know, Bush perpetrated a criminal act.  He didn’t want ElBaradei, the person who publicly called bullshit at the UN, to stand in the way of more criminal acts.  They lost.  The world has won this round.

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