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July 30, 2005

No Stinking Badges


by Gordon Prather

According to neo-crazy media sycophants at the New York Times and elsewhere, the Bush-Cheney administration is currently engaged in the six-party talks "aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapons programs" and is "supporting" European Union efforts to force Iran "to end its nuclear weapons program."

But media sycophants to the contrary, that is not what the six-party talks are "aimed at," nor is that what the European Union is attempting to do.

When Bush-Cheney came to power in 2001, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea were "non-nuclear-weapons states parties" to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Hence, all their nuclear programs were subject to safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency. And as best the IAEA inspectors could determine, none of the safeguarded "special nuclear materials" or safeguarded facilities in Iraq, Iran, and North Korea were involved at that time in any activity that served a military purpose.

Nevertheless, in his 2002 State of the Union address, after singling out Iraq, Iran, and North Korea by name as "regimes that sponsor terror" and threaten America "with weapons of mass destruction," President Bush declared

"I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."

Later that year, Bush announced a new National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction, which declared – among other things – that

"The United States has long maintained the option of preemptive actions to counter a sufficient threat to our national security. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction – and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack. To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively."

But Bush had a couple of problems.

First, at the Sixth NPT Review Conference, held at UN Headquarters in New York City in 2000:

"The [Sixth] Conference notes the reaffirmation by the nuclear-weapon states of their commitment to the United Nations Security Council resolution 984 (1995) on security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon states parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons."

Among other things, UNSCR 984 "recognizes" that "in case of aggression with nuclear weapons or the threat of such aggression against a non-nuclear-weapon State Party" to the NPT, "the nuclear-weapon State permanent members of the Security Council will bring the matter immediately to the attention of the Council and seek Council action to provide, in accordance with the Charter, the necessary assistance to the State victim."

In other words, if Bush had threatened to nuke North Korea prior to its withdrawal from the NPT, China and Russia would have been required to seek Council action against him.

Then there was a second problem.

"The [Sixth] Conference reaffirms that IAEA is the competent authority responsible for verifying and assuring … compliance with its safeguards agreements … 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 IAEA in this regard."

In other words, an IAEA determination that none of the safeguarded "special nuclear materials" or safeguarded facilities in Iraq, Iran, and North Korea are involved in any activity that serves a military purpose is final.

Nevertheless, Bush invaded Iraq in March 2003 after "determining" that Saddam Hussein had reconstituted his nuclear weapons program in spite of the IAEA determination that he hadn't.

Shortly after invading Iraq "to counter a sufficient threat to our national security," Bush formally announced his Proliferation Security Initiative. Its stated objective was to create a web of international "counter-proliferation partnerships" to prevent proliferators from "carrying out their trade in WMD and missile-related technology."

According to Undersecretary of State John Bolton, the PSI was necessary because "proliferators and those facilitating the procurement of deadly capabilities are circumventing existing laws, treaties, and controls against WMD proliferation." Unlike the existing UN proliferation-prevention regime, "PSI is not diverted by disputes about candidacies for director general, agency budgets, agendas for meetings, and the like."

Like, specifically, the NPT and UNSCR 984?

So what will Bush do if the EU-Iran and six-party talks fail – as they no doubt will – to reach an agreement acceptable to him?

Stay tuned.


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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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