Hours before his "ratification"
inaugural, Vice President Dick Cheney was chatting with Don Imus on MSNBC about
Iraqi and Iranian "nuclear programs."
Now, Cheney appears to know the difference between a "nuclear program"
and a "nuclear weapons program." Bush may not. In any case, both Cheney
and Bush want you to hear "nuclear weapons" when they say "nuclear."
Recall that in the months and weeks before Bush-Cheney launched a preventative
war against Iraq on the pretext of keeping Saddam from giving nuclear weapons
to terrorists, Mohamed ElBaradei – Director General of the International Atomic
Energy Agency – had reported to the UN Security Council that there was no evidence
that any attempt had been made in the past decade to reconstitute Saddam's nuclear
That's right. Not only did Saddam not have a nuclear weapons program, he didn't
even have a nuclear program.
Nevertheless, right up until the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Cheney was
claiming – without a shred of evidence – that Saddam had a nuke program and
ElBaradei couldn't find it with both hands and a covert road map.
Now, in the years, months, and weeks before and after Cheney's ratification
inaugural, Cheney has been claiming – without a shred of evidence – that the
Iranian mullahs have a nuke program and ElBaradei couldn't find it with both
hands and a covert road map.
Iran has been a signatory to the NPT since 1970, so its nuclear programs are
subject to an IAEA Safeguards Agreement.
But in his 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush had this to say
about Iran, Iraq, and North Korea.
"States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis
of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass
destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide
these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They
could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of
these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic."
More than a year ago, after watching what Bush did to Iraq, Iran voluntarily
subjected itself to an intrusive go-anywhere, see-anything Additional Protocol
to their IAEA Safeguards Agreement. Under the Additional Protocol, activities
and sites that either did not need to be declared at all, or needed to be declared
only shortly before operations involving "special nuclear materials"
began, must now be declared while still in the planning stage. Iran volunteered
to temporarily freeze its gas-centrifuge research, development, and production
Any past or present violations of Iran's Safeguards Agreement was to be reported
to the IAEA Board of Governors. If and only if the Board decided the violations
amounted to a violation of the NPT itself was the Board to 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 U.S. suspected should have been
declared but weren't. Iran had also given the IAEA permission to review its
import and export records going back at least a decade.
Result? The IAEA has found some minor violations, but no indication that Iran
is now pursuing – or has ever pursued – a nuclear weapons program.
The IAEA even verified that the Iranians have not yet operated their pilot-plant
uranium-enrichment cascade, nor even completed their commercial-scale plant.
But Bush-Cheney and the Israelis are loudly demanding that the freeze be made
permanent, that Iran never be allowed to have a uranium-enrichment capability,
even one subject to IAEA Safeguards.
So back to Cheney and Imus. After asking Cheney what will happen if we find
out the Iranians do have a nuclear weapons program, Imus wondered aloud. "Why
don't we make Israel do it?"
"Well, one of the concerns people have is that Israel might do it without
being asked, that if, in fact, the Israelis became convinced the Iranians had
significant nuclear capability, given the fact that Iran has a stated policy
that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide
to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic
Now, some pundits have interpreted that remark to be a warning to Israel to
not launch preemptive strikes against Iran's Safeguarded facilities.
But, others have interpreted it to be a green light for the Israelis. After
all, as far as Cheney is concerned, there will be a mere "diplomatic mess"
to clean up.
Which is it? Stay tuned.