Last month the Congressional Commission on Strategic
Posture issued an interim
report, on the basis of which one of its co-chairmen, former Secretary
of Defense William Perry, publicly predicted this week that President-elect
Obama will soon face a "serious
crisis with Iran."
Now, Perry was SecDef in the early 1990s when the International Atomic Energy
Agency – which was negotiating the Safeguards Agreement with North Korea, required
as a condition of its being a signatory to the Treaty
on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) – concluded North
Korea was not accurately "declaring" the amount of plutonium
which could be recovered from the spent-fuel elements being subjected to IAEA
Safeguards for the first time.
The IAEA wanted to do chemical diagnostic assays of those spent-fuel elements,
and the Koreans refused.
The IAEA then reported the refusal to the IAEA Board of Governors and to the
UN Security Council, as required by the IAEA Statute.
On March 12, 1993, North Korea announced its intention to withdraw from the
NPT, its principal stated rationale being its claim that the United States
had threatened its national security by, inter alia, strong-arming
the IAEA Board of Governors into adopting on Feb. 25, 1993, a resolution requiring
Korean officials to open military sites to inspection, sites that North Korea
claimed were not related to NPT-proscribed materials storage or to activities
involving the physical or chemical transformation of such materials.
But NPT withdrawal would never do, since President Clinton had hoped to make
his legacy getting every nation – including India, Pakistan, and
Israel – to become signatory to the NPT.
The NPT was viewed – then and now – as having three "pillars":
- A promise by the NPT nuke-states to eventually dispose of nukes.
- An affirmation of the inalienable right of all other NPT states to the
peaceful uses of nuclear energy "without discrimination."
- A mechanism for verifying that nuclear energy was not being diverted from
peaceful to military purposes.
Soon after taking office, President Clinton had begun to pledge at UN conference
after UN conference that he would honor the NPT commitment to dispose of our
nukes, soon, rather than eventually.
Hence, the Clinton-Gore-Perry-negotiated Agreed
Framework [.pdf] of 1994, under which North Korea agreed to not only remain
an NPT signatory, but to "freeze" the operation and construction
of its Soviet-designed-and-built plutonium-producing reactors and related facilities,
subjecting all to IAEA lock, seal, and oversight.
Next, at the 1995 NPT Review Conference, Clinton got all signatories
to agree to its indefinite extension.
Now all this nuke disarmament activity upset some Republicans in Congress
more than somewhat. So Clinton had then SecDef Perry draw up a contingency
plan to "take out" the North Korean nuclear facilities should
North Korea either refuse to sign the Agreed Framework or cease to abide by
Whereupon, Bush-Cheney-Wolfowitz-Bolton came to power, intent upon reversing
the "globalist" nuclear disarmament policies of Clinton-Gore-Perry
and establishing, instead, American hegemony.
However, Bush-Cheney-Wolfowitz-Bolton realized that the only rationale most
Americans would accept for establishing that American hegemony – forcibly effecting
regime change in Iraq, Iran, Syria, North Korea, and elsewhere – would be for
those regimes to actually have nuclear weapons and a willingness to supply
them to terrorists.
Then came the second attempt by the Islamic jihadists – this time armed with
box-cutters – to bring down the World Trade Center Twin Towers.
So, according to then-Deputy SecDef Paul Wolfowitz, the obvious and necessary
thing for Bush-Cheney to do was deliberately discredit – even destroy – the
NPT-associated nuke-proliferation-prevention regime with which Iraq, Iran,
Syria, and North Korea were then in total compliance.
It is important to note that, as of this writing, no evidence has surfaced
that at that time Iraq, Iran, Syria, or North Korea were diverting NPT-proscribed
materials to a military purpose. Furthermore, as of this writing, no evidence
has surfaced that Iran has ever diverted NPT-proscribed materials to
a military purpose.
Now, according to the commission, the Soviet Union did pose "an existential
threat" to the United States, but its dissolution dramatically reduced
that threat, permitting us to reduce our reliance on nuclear weapons.
However, a new threat has "come to the fore – that of catastrophic terrorism."
Hence the commission's proposed four "security imperatives":
- To reduce and provide better protection for existing nuclear stockpiles
of weapons and fissile material.
- To keep new nations from going nuclear.
- To provide effective protection for the fissile material generated by enrichment
activities, reprocessing facilities, and commercial nuclear reactors.
- To improve our tools to detect clandestine delivery of nuclear weapons
and to disable and otherwise defend against them.
Now, presumably commission members know the difference between nuclear weapons
and nuclear power plants.
So when Perry et al. declare one of our "security imperatives"
to be keeping new nations from "going nuclear," the commission must
mean keeping them from acquiring anything "nuclear," peaceful or
"The efforts to keep other nations from going nuclear are obviously
multinational. The 6-party talks have had limited success to date in dealing
with North Korea but may ultimately be successful. However, there is no similarly
comprehensive diplomatic approach to Iran, which has constructed a major facility
for enriching uranium.
"It appears that we are at a 'tipping point' in proliferation. If
Iran and North Korea proceed unchecked to build nuclear arsenals, there is
a serious possibility of a cascade of proliferation following. And as each
new nuclear power is added the probability of a terror group getting a nuclear
Well, there you have it. Iran has constructed and is operating – subject to
IAEA Safeguards – a major facility for enriching uranium.
Since Iran is unquestionably within its rights – under the NPT, the IAEA Statute,
and the UN Charter – the commission is correct in noting that there is no "comprehensive
diplomatic approach" to forcing Iran to give up those "inalienable"
So what does former SecDef Perry mean when he predicts that Obama will soon
face a serious crisis with respect to Iran?