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July 5, 2008

Another Nail in the NPT Coffin


by Gordon Prather

Garold Larson has the misfortune to be the Bush-Cheney Deputy Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, and hence, was required to "celebrate" the 40th anniversary of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Misfortune, because Larson – who may not be a pathological liar – was required to make this outrageous claim;

"President Bush has reaffirmed the strong support of the United States for the NPT and our commitment to work diligently to strengthen it further."

And misfortune, because Larson – who may not be a warmongering scoundrel – was required to make this even more outrageous allegation;

"The United States remains very concerned that Parties like Iran have violated their commitments and thereby undermined the Treaty."

Now, arguably, the United States is the most flagrant violator of NPT commitments, frequently intervening to prevent other NPT signatories from exercising their "inalienable rights" affirmed under the NPT to access nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, "without discrimination."

So, isn’t this charge that it is "Parties like Iran" that are undermining the NPT just another pile of organic fertilizer? Or is it more sinister?

Recall that in his first State of the Union Address Bush essentially accused North Korea, Iran and Iraq of having clandestine nuclear weapons programs.

"States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.

"I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."

But – at that time – North Korea, Iran and Iraq were NPT signatories.

At this point, recall that the NPT – in and of itself – contains no enforcement mechanism, whatsoever.

So, the NPT took advantage of the existing Safeguards and Physical Security System of the International Atomic Energy Agency, requiring that each no-nuke NPT signatory enter into a bilateral "safeguards" agreement with the IAEA "with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons."

The principal mission of the IAEA is to facilitate "the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity, throughout the world."

But the IAEA – in carrying out its principal mission – "shall ensure, so far as it is able" that materials and activities under its "supervision" are not "diverted" so as "to further any military purpose."

Whenever the IAEA's inspectors detect possible "diversion," the Director-General reports that to the Board of Governors. The Board can then decide – by a two-thirds majority – whether or not the "diversion" furthers "any military purpose" and should be reported to the UN Security Council for possible action.

In the aftermath of Gulf War I, the IAEA discovered – and reported to the Security Council – that Iraq had been in "non-compliance" of its Safeguards Agreement and that said non-compliance was intended to further a military purpose. Hence, the Security Council imposed sanctions upon Iraq.

But, by 1998, Director-General ElBaradei was able to report [.pdf] to the Board and to the Security Council that

  • There were no indications to suggest that Iraq was successful in its attempt to produce nuclear weapons.
  • There were no indications that there remains in Iraq any physical capability for the production of amounts of weapons-usable nuclear material of any practical significance.

So, upon receipt of that IAEA report – that Iraq’s nuclear program had not posed and did not now pose a "threat to the peace in the region" – the Security Council should have removed some or all of the sanctions previously imposed.

But, President Clinton declared he would never allow sanctions to be lifted, despite the IAEA report that Iraq was in total compliance with its Safeguards Agreement, so long as Saddam Hussein was in power.

In a TV interview in the spring of 2003, Vice-President Cheney went even further, expressing his view that ElBaradei was, "frankly, wrong" about the status of Iraq’s nuclear programs, even though his IAEA inspectors had been in Iraq for months, verifying that their locks and seals were still in place.

Of course, by the summer of 2003, the whole world knew that ElBaradei had been right all along; it was Cheney who had been either tragically or malevolently wrong.

Was any member of the Cheney Cabal chastened?

Did Bush join in the worldwide acclamation – culminating in the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize – for ElBaradei and his IAEA experts?

Hardly.

In fact, having had his wars of aggression "ratified" by his 2004 reelection, Bush made Condi-baby Secretary of State and Bonkers Bolton our UN Ambassador, whereupon they did everything they could to get ElBaradei fired.

Now, in Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s opening statement to the Sixth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons held at UN Headquarters in 2000, she encouraged conferees to focus on three key issues: how the treaty is working to (a) prevent nuclear proliferation, (b) advance nuclear disarmament, and (c) enhance cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Contrast that with the demonstration of Bush’s commitment to "strengthen the NPT-IAEA regime"; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice didn't address or even attend the Seventh Review Conference held at UN Headquarters in 2005.

Worse, Condi-baby’s munchkins refused to allow the findings of the 2000 NPT RevCon to even be discussed at the 2005 NPT RevCon, much less be affirmed.

Worse still, they attempted to get the NPT, itself, revised, eliminating all that pesky language requiring us to disarm, to facilitate the acquisition by NPT Parties (like Iran) of nuclear energy and prohibits our attacking NPT Parties (like Iran).

Condi also sent Stephen Rademaker to instruct the conferees about the need to replace the NPT – if not so "revised" – with President Bush’s Proliferation Security Initiative.

You probably never heard of Rademaker until he publicly "admitted" last year that the so-called U.S.-India Nuclear Deal he and Condi negotiated was really all about coercing India into voting "our way" on the IAEA Board against Iran.

You see, it is that U.S.-India Nuclear Deal which may well have the most serious long-term and disastrous consequences for the NPT nuke proliferation-prevention regime.

Condi had whizzed down to New Delhi to prevent India's finalizing technical and commercial contracts for a $4.5 billion Iran-Pakistan-India natural-gas pipeline that will provide Iranian natural gas mostly to India.

In return for India canceling the "peace pipeline," Condi held out the possibility that we would (a) lift sanctions imposed by Congress on India (as a result of the nuclear weapons tests India conducted in 1998) and on U.S. companies doing business with India, (b) supply India with the nuclear power plants that we had prevented Russia from supplying (and the fuel for them that we had prevented the Russians from supplying), and (c) get the Nuclear Suppliers Group to completely disregard guidelines on restrictions to be applied to NSG exports to India.

When details of what Condi had demanded of India leaked out, it very nearly brought down the Indian government.

And, it may yet.

But, even if the deal never gets done, the NPT-based nuke proliferation-prevention regime may have suffered irreparable damage.

And that, of course, is what the Cheney Cabal set out to do.


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Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.

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