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May 9, 2005

Badgering the NPT


by Gordon Prather

In her opening statement to the Sixth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons held at UN Headquarters five years ago, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright encouraged conferees to focus on three key issues: how the treaty is working to (a) prevent nuclear proliferation, (b) advance nuclear disarmament, and (c) enhance cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice didn't bother to address or even attend the Seventh RevCon being held this month. Instead, she sent some mid-level State Department weenie you've probably never heard of named Stephen Rademaker to instruct the conferees.

Before revealing what Rademaker directed the conferees to focus on, it might be useful to provide some excerpts from the Sixth RevCon Final Report.

"The Conference recalls that the overwhelming majority of states entered into legally binding commitments not to receive, manufacture, or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices in the context – inter alia – of the corresponding legally binding commitments by the nuclear-weapon states to nuclear disarmament in accordance with the treaty."

In other words, the overwhelming majority of NPT signatories thought they had obtained – among other things – a legally binding commitment by the U.S., Russia, China, France, and the UK to get rid of their nuke stockpiles.

"The Conference emphasizes that measures should be taken to ensure that the rights of all states parties under the provisions of the preamble and the articles of the treaty are fully protected and that no state party is limited in the exercise of these rights in accordance with the treaty."

In other words, President Clinton violated Iran's NPT rights when he – among other things – strong-armed President Yeltsin into canceling the sale of a Russian gas-centrifuge uranium-enrichment plant to Iran.

"The Conference reaffirms that the IAEA is the competent authority responsible to verify and assure, in accordance with the Statute of the IAEA and the IAEA's safeguards system, compliance with its safeguards agreements with states parties, undertaken in fulfillment of their obligations under Article III, paragraph 1 of the treaty, with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

"It is the conviction of the Conference that nothing should be done to undermine the authority of the IAEA in this regard.

"States parties that have concerns regarding noncompliance with the safeguards agreements of the treaty by the states parties should direct such concerns, along with supporting evidence and information, to the IAEA to consider, investigate, draw conclusions, and decide on necessary actions in accordance with its mandate."

In other words, the IAEA is solely responsible for deciding whether "source and special fissionable materials" are being used by Iran "in furtherance of any military purpose."

So as Rademaker addresses the 2005 RevCon, keep in mind that the United States has unquestionably violated the NPT – by denying Iran's "inalienable" rights under the treaty – but as best IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei as can determine, Iran has not. Quoth Rademaker:

"Today, the treaty is facing the most serious challenge in its history due to instances of noncompliance. Although the vast majority of member states have lived up to their NPT nonproliferation obligations that constitute the treaty's most important contribution to international peace and security, some have not.

"Indeed, Mr. President, some continue to use the pretext of a peaceful nuclear program to pursue the goal of developing nuclear weapons. We must confront this challenge in order to ensure that the treaty remains relevant. This Review Conference provides an opportunity for us to demonstrate our resolve by reaffirming our collective determination that noncompliance with the treaty's core nonproliferation norms is a clear threat to international peace and security.

"For almost two decades, Iran has conducted a clandestine nuclear weapons program, aided by the illicit network of A. Q. Khan.

"Britain, France, and Germany, with our support, are seeking to reach a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear problem, a solution that given the history of clandestine nuclear weapons work in that country, must include permanent cessation of Iran's enrichment and reprocessing efforts, as well as dismantlement of equipment and facilities related to such activity."

So what is ElBaradei going to do about Iran's "nuclear weapons" program? Quoth the director general:

"I have seen no nuclear weapons program in Iran. What I have seen is that Iran is trying to gain access to nuclear enrichment technology, and so far there is no danger from Iran."


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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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