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April 16, 2005

Strengthening the NPT?


by Gordon Prather

According to Ambassador Jackie Sanders, the United States proposes to "strengthen" the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons at the NPT Review Conference being held next month at United Nations headquarters in New York.

If Sanders is not intentionally misleading us, either she has never read the Treaty or didn't understand what she read.

For example, Sanders acknowledges that the NPT "provides for NPT parties to pursue peaceful nuclear programs." But then she says "The plain language of Article IV creates no 'right' to any particular nuclear activities or facilities, nor does it require the transfer of any particular technology."

Translation? Article IV doesn't specifically give Iran the "right" to enrich uranium, nor does it require the US to assist Russia in transfering uranium-enrichment technology to Iran.

Well, the NPT doesn't mention uranium-enrichment or Iran. But Article IV acknowledges "the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty" – including Iran – to acquire and use any and all nuclear technologies – including uranium-enrichment – for peaceful purposes "without discrimination."

And Article IV goes on to say that Parties to the Treaty in a position to do so – such as Russia and the United States – "shall" cooperate in contributing to the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty – such as Iran.

Worse, Sanders claims that the NPT "mandates that their nuclear activities must comply with the Treaty's nonproliferation obligations."

Whatever Sanders thinks those obligations might be, the Treaty doesn't even mention them, much less "mandate" compliance with them.

What the NPT actually mandates is that each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty conclude a "safeguards" agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Treaty makes clear that the "exclusive purpose" of compliance with a safeguards agreement is so all NPT-signatories can be assured that nuclear energy is not being diverted by some other NPT-signatory from peaceful uses to the production of nuclear weapons.

It is the IAEA Statute, itself, that requires IAEA inspectors to report noncompliance – defined to be safeguarded materials, equipment or facilities being used "in furtherance of any military purpose" – to the IAEA Director General, who is required to forward that report to the IAEA Board of Directors, who are, in turn, required to report that misuse to all IAEA Members, to the UN Security Council and to the UN General Assembly, itself.

Sanders wants you to believe that the failure to completely and fully "comply" in a timely manner with an IAEA Safeguards Agreement constitutes "non-compliance," as defined by the IAEA Statute.

It doesn't. Not by a long shot.

If an NPT-signatory moves a small amount of "safeguarded" material from Building A to Building B and doesn't report that to the IAEA in a timely manner, unless that moving was done in furtherance of a military purpose, that "failure" to fully "comply" doesn't get reported to the UN Security Council as statutory "non-compliance."

Hence, an NPT "violation" is effectively a determination by the IAEA that safeguarded materials, equipment or facilities in a NPT-signatory state have been used in furtherance of a military purpose.

Note that there are materials, equipment and facilities subject to IAEA Safeguards in Pakistan and India, neither of which are NPT-signatories.

In other words, the NPT has made use of an already existing system for detecting and reporting illicit nuke programs to the Security Council.

That means that – under the IAEA statute – it is the IAEA Director General who effectively decides what constitutes an NPT "violation" and what doesn't.

Since 1997 Mohamed ElBaradei has been making those decisions.

That's probably one reason the neo-crazies are crazy.

In the months preceding Bush's invasion of Iraq, Bush-Cheney-Bolton, the neocrazies and their media sycophants insisted that Iraq was "violating" the NPT.

ElBaradei and his inspectors spent months on the ground in Iraq – conducting intrusive go-anywhere see-anything inspections – found no evidence that Iraq was using nuclear energy in furtherance of any military purpose and reported that to the UN Security Council.

Since Bush was hell-bent on "regime change" in Iraq, he invaded, anyway.

For almost two years now, Bush-Bolton and the neo-crazies have been insisting that Iran is "violating" the NPT.

ElBaradei and his inspectors have spent almost two years on the ground in Iran – conducting intrusive go-anywhere see-anything inspections – have found no evidence that Iran is using nuclear energy in furtherance of any military purpose and has reported that to the IAEA Board.

Hence, the frantic ongoing effort by Bolton and the neo-crazies to get rid of ElBaradei.


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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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