The US government has dozens of intercepts of Mohamed El Baradei's telephone calls with Iranian officials, searching for ammunition to oust him as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Washington Post reported Sunday.
The intercepted calls have not produced any evidence of nefarious conduct by El Baradei, the newspaper quoted US government officials as saying.
But some officials within President George W. Bush's Administration believe that the intercepted calls show El Baradei lacks impartiality.
"Some people think he (El Baradei) sounds too soft on the Iranians," one official with access to the intercepts was quoted as saying.
In Vienna, where the IAEA has its headquarters, officials said they were not surprised about the eavesdropping.
"We've always assumed that this kind of thing goes on," an IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said. "We wish it were otherwise, but we know the reality."
El Baradei, 62, an Egyptian diplomat, began to be IAEA leader in 1997. He is well-respected inside the United Nations, and many of the countries that sit on the IAEA board have asked him to stay for a third term beginning next summer.
(Xinhua News Agency December 13, 2004)