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January 29, 2005

Targeting Iran


by Gordon Prather

Pulitizer Prize Winner Seymour Hersh first revealed – and neocrazy sycophants at the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and UPI reluctantly confirmed – that the Bush-Cheney Administration has been conducting secret "reconnaissance" missions inside Iran since at least last summer.

"Much of the focus is on the accumulation of intelligence and targeting information on Iranian nuclear, chemical, and missile sites, both declared and suspected. The goal is to identify and isolate three dozen, and perhaps more, such targets that could be destroyed by precision strikes and short-term commando raids."

Now, Iran is a signatory to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons.

Each convention requires that certain activities and sites be declared by each party to the conventions. Each also provides for the reporting of the suspicions by one party – the US for example – of activities and sites that should have been declared by another party, but weren't.

NPT

Iran has been a signatory to the NPT since 1970. More than a year ago, Iran voluntarily subjected itself to an intrusive go-anywhere see-anything Additional Protocol to their Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Under the Additional Protocol, activities and sites that formerly did not need to be declared at all, or only after operations involving "special nuclear materials" began, must now be declared while still in the planning stage.

If IAEA inspectors were to discover that Iran was violating its Safeguards Agreement, they would report those violations to the IAEA Board of Governors. If and only if the Board decided the violations amounted to a violation of the NPT, itself, the Board would refer the matter to the UN Security Council for possible action.

The IAEA has now visited every site the Iranians have declared under the Additional Protocol, as well as at least two sites the US suspected ought to have been declared, but weren't. Result? The IAEA has found no indication that Iran is now pursuing – or ever has pursued – a nuclear weapons program.

CWC

Iran has been a party to the CWC ever since it entered into force on April 29, 1997.

The CWC is implemented by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The OPCW receives states-parties' declarations, which detail chemical weapons-related activities or materials and relevant industrial activities.

After receiving declarations, the OPCW inspects and monitors states-parties' facilities and activities, including chemical weapons-related facilities and chemical industry facilities to verify the content of declarations and to confirm that activities are consistent with CWC obligations.

But the OPCW can also conduct "challenge inspections" at any facility or location in states-parties to clarify questions of possible noncompliance.

If the US suspects that Iran is engaged in prohibited activities at any site, it is their duty to report that to the OPCW.

If the OPCW determines that the Iranians are engaged in activities that could result in "serious damage" to the CWC, the OPCW could recommend to other parties that collective punitive action – such as economic sanctions – be taken. If the prohibited activities are of "particular gravity," the OPCW is required to bring the issue before the UN Security Council for possible action.

BTWC

Iran has been a signatory of BTWC since it entered into force on 26 March 1975.

Each State Party to the BTWC undertakes to never develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain:

  • Microbial or other biological agents, or toxins whatever their origin or method of production, of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes;
  • Weapons, equipment or means of delivery designed to use such agents or toxins for hostile purposes or in armed conflict.

The BTWC does not provide for verification or monitoring of compliance. However, "Any State Party to this convention which finds that any other State Party is acting in breach of obligations deriving from the provisions thereof may lodge a complaint with the Security Council of the United Nations. Such a complaint should include all possible evidence confirming its validity, as well as a request for its consideration by the Security Council."

Operation Iranian Freedom

So, the US is effectively required to report any "suspicious" activities and sites their recon teams find in Iran to the IAEA or OPCW or directly to the UN Security Council for possible action.

But, the Brits have already warned Bush: "If you launch Operation Iranian Freedom, you'll have to go it alone."


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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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