Even after years of go-anywhere, see-anything
inspections, Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic
Energy Agency, continues to report to the IAEA Board of Governors that he can
find no indication that Iran now has, ever had, or intends to have a nuclear
Nevertheless, last week Secretary of State Condi Rice determined – pursuant
to Presidential Directive 12938, as amended – that the Atomic Energy Agency
of Iran had engaged in activities or transactions that materially contributed
to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Whereupon Treasury Secretary Snow immediately
"blocked" all the Iranian agency's U.S. assets.
Of course, it's doubtful that the Atomic Energy Agency had any assets in the
U.S. to seize. So why did Bush-Rice-Snow bother to seize them?
Apparently, so Bush could threaten this week to seize – pursuant to Presidential
Directive 12938, as amended – all the U.S. assets of any foreign
company who provides (or attempts to provide) financial, material, technological,
or other support to the Atomic Energy Agency of Iran.
France's new foreign minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, was in Washington to
review with Condi the state of the Paris negotiations between the European Union
Last November, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom – as agents for the
European Union – began negotiations with Iran on "a mutually acceptable long-term
arrangement" that would (a) provide "objective guarantees" to the EU that Iran's
nuclear program was exclusively for peaceful purposes," (b) guarantee future
EU-Iranian nuclear, technological, and economic "cooperation," as well as (c)
provide "firm commitments" by the EU to Iran "on security issues."
Now the key to preventing nuke proliferation is the international control of
the acquisition and chemical/physical transformation of certain nuclear materials.
In return for a promise not to acquire or seek to acquire nuclear weapons, the
Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons recognizes the "inalienable right"
of all signatories to acquire and transform those materials, subject to oversight
by the IAEA Safeguards regime.
The EU-Iran negotiating agreement reaffirmed Iran's inalienable right under
the NPT to acquire and operate – subject to the IAEA Safeguards regime – any
and all nuclear fuel-cycle facilities.
However, as a "confidence-building measure," Iran volunteered to
temporarily suspend its IAEA Safeguarded fuel-cycle activities and invited the
IAEA to verify to the EU that suspension.
However, the Iranians made it very clear that under no circumstances would
they permanently suspend all nuclear fuel-cycle facilities.
So at best, the EU can hope the Iranians would agree to EU-Iranian co-production
co-ownership arrangements for reactors and other fuel-cycle facilities.
Hence, if the EU-Iranian talks are successful, numerous European entities –
many having substantial U.S. assets – will be providing financial, material,
technological, and other support to the Atomic Energy Agency of Iran.
Nevertheless, at a joint
press conference, Douste-Blazy pledged to continue consulting with Condi
as the Europeans prepare a new proposal, which might include security guarantees
Douste-Blazy noted that in order for the EU to give Iran such security guarantees
– which is Iran's "ultimate objective" in the negotiations – it would
be necessary for the U.S. to endorse those guarantees
So, obviously, Condi had summoned Douste-Blazy to Washington to tell him that
the success of the EU-Iranian negotiations was her "ultimate objective."
And that she had been mistaken when she determined just a few days before that
the Iranians were using the Safeguarded nuclear programs at their Atomic Energy
Agency to hide a secret nuke program.
And that President Bush had absolutely no intention of seizing the U.S. assets
of any European entity – public or private – that was a party to any "mutually
acceptable long-term arrangement" with the Atomic Energy Agency of Iran.
But then Douste-Blazy declared that "our ultimate objective is to insure
that there is a suspension of the enrichment and reprocessing of hazardous nuclear
Whoa! Up until now, that hasn't been the EU's "ultimate objective."
Reestablishment of normal banking and trade relations with Iran – disrupted
for more than 20 years by U.S. sanctions on European entities that have attempted
to do business in Iran and with Iranians – has been.
So what did Condi actually tell Douste-Blazy?
"Well, the Paris agreement is initially about suspension. But ultimately
the world has to be assured that Iran cannot have this [nuclear fuel-cycle]
capability. And that there will ultimately have to be objective guarantees,
and we believe that means cessation."
That tears it. No EU offer that makes that voluntary suspension an enforced
cessation will be acceptable to the Iranians.
So thanks to Condi's determination, there won't be an EU-Iranian agreement