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January 10, 2005

ElBaradei 1, Bolton 0


by Gordon Prather

Mohamed ElBaradei will serve a third term as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Since abject failure appears to be among the criteria for being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, look for John Bolton – currently undersecretary of state – to be the next recipient.

You see, Bolton has been "point man" in the Bush administration's campaign to discredit and/or supersede ElBaradei and his pesky IAEA non-proliferation regime.

How pesky?

In Bush's first State of the Union message, the president essentially accused North Korea, Iran, and Iraq of having clandestine nuke 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 signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). All three had their declared nuclear facilities subject to IAEA periodic inspection, and both Iraq and North Korea were subject to additional stringent IAEA surveillance.

The non-proliferation regime that the IAEA applied to Iraq was especially severe. The IAEA Action Team on Iraq had been granted extraordinary authority by UN Security Council Resolution 687. To wit:

  • Identifying Iraqi facilities capable of enriching or extracting nuke-usable materials
  • Assessing Iraqi industrial capabilities for constructing such plants
  • Identifying Iraqi plants capable of producing non-nuclear components of nukes
  • Searching for evidence – including analysis of ongoing research and development activities – of an Iraqi nuke program

    (This extraordinary authority given by the Security Council to the IAEA for Iraq then became the basis for developing the 1997 Model Additional Protocol to be added to all existing IAEA Safeguards Agreements.)

    As for North Korea (DPRK), under the U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework of 1994, all existing North Korean nuclear activities had been frozen – under IAEA lock and seal – in return for a promise of free nuclear power plants and an interim supply of free fuel oil.

    If the IAEA had determined that (a) Iraq was not in compliance with Security Council resolutions, or that (b) North Korea was not in compliance with the Agreed Framework, or that (c) Iran was not in compliance with its Safeguards Agreement, it could have asked the UN Security Council to impose sanctions, which could – under the UN Charter – include the use of military force.

    However, the IAEA had made no such determination.

    Obviously, if Bush was to impose regime change on Iraq, Iran, and North Korea under the pretext that they had nukes, the IAEA non-proliferation regime had to be discredited or superseded.

    So Bush announced his own National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction in late 2002, and developed from it the Proliferation Security Initiative of 2003 (PSI), whose objective was to create a web of international "counter-proliferation partnerships" to prevent "proliferators" from "carrying out their trade in WMD and missile-related technology."

    According to Bolton, the PSI was necessary because "proliferators and those facilitating the procurement of deadly capabilities are circumventing existing laws, treaties, and controls against WMD proliferation." Unlike the existing UN proliferation-prevention regime, "PSI is not diverted by disputes about candidacies for director general, agency budgets, agendas for meetings, and the like."

    Bolton began implementing Bush's PSI almost nine months after Bush had unilaterally abrogated the IAEA-monitored Agreed Framework with North Korea and several months after Bush had defied the UN Security Council (UNSC) by unilaterally invading and occupying Iraq.

    Bolton claimed the PSI was presaged by Security Council Resolution 1540 of 2004, which reaffirmed the UNSC President's Statement (S 23500) of Jan. 31, 1992.

    Bolton to the contrary, that statement actually includes the following reaffirmation of the NPT and the role of the IAEA in preventing nuke proliferation.

    "On nuclear proliferation, they [Council members] note the importance of the decision of many countries to adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and emphasize the integral role in the implementation of that Treaty of fully effective IAEA safeguards, as well as the importance of effective export controls. The members of the Council will take appropriate measures in the case of any violations notified to them by the IAEA."

    Bolton has been demanding, publicly and privately, that ElBaradei be replaced. Well, that's not going to happen. But Bolton will be replaced – so as to be eligible for the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


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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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