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September 17, 2005

Neocrazies Foiled


by Gordon Prather

According to Article IV of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons:

"All the Parties to the Treaty undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

"Parties to the Treaty in a position to do so shall also cooperate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty."

Iran (for example) has an inalienable right to buy a turn-key uranium enrichment facility and, if the financial details can be worked out, Russia (for example) "shall" sell it to them.

But, since the early 1980s, Iran claims its inalienable right to acquire nuclear technology has been subjected to an "extensive and intensive campaign of denial, obstruction, intervention and misinformation."

Mostly by – or at the behest of – the United States.

1. Valid and binding contracts to build nuclear power plants were unilaterally abrogated;

2. Nuclear material rightfully purchased and owned by Iran was illegally withheld;

3. Unjustified and coercive interventions were routinely made in order to undermine, impede and delay the implementation of Iran's nuclear agreements with third parties; and

4. Unfounded accusations against Iran's exclusively peaceful nuclear program were systematically publicized.

So Iran began keeping secret the details of its nuclear-related programs, which, in nearly all cases, were not required to be disclosed under its Safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

In particular, Iran was not obliged to report to the IAEA the acquisition or manufacture of any number of gas-centrifuges, nor the construction of associated facilities, until shortly before introducing "special nuclear materials" into them.

But, in October 2003, after seeing what Bush and Blair did to Iraq on the pretext of destroying Iraq's non-existent nuke programs, Iran began negotiations with France, Germany and the United Kingdom [EU/E3] with the explicit expectation of obtaining – at a minimum – assurances from the Europeans that Bush and Blair would not do unto them what they had done unto Iraq.

Iran signed and immediately began full implementation of an Additional Protocol to its IAEA Safeguards Agreement, providing a detailed account of its previously secret nuclear activities, virtually all of which had been carried out in full conformity with its rights and obligations under the NPT.

Iran also began a voluntary temporary suspension of its Safeguarded uranium-enrichment activities as "a confidence building measure."

On March 23, 2005, Iran offered the EU/E3 a package of "objective guarantees" that included a voluntary "confinement" of Iran's nuclear programs, to include:

1. Forgoing the reprocessing of spent fuel and the production of plutonium;

2. Limiting the extent and level of uranium-enrichment to that required for Iran's power reactors;

3. The immediate conversion of any and all enriched uranium to fuel rods to preclude even the technical possibility of further enrichment;

The Iranians also proposed that there be an unprecedented "continuous on-site presence of IAEA inspectors at the conversion and enrichment facilities."

But, under extreme pressure by the United States, the EU/E3 never even acknowledged receipt of the Iranian offer. Much less did they offer the "security" guarantees Iran sought.

Eventually, days after Iran lifted its voluntary temporary suspension of uranium-conversion activity, the EU/E3 offered to "not interfere" in any Iranian attempt to obtain fuel – internationally – for its nuclear power plants. But that offer was conditional on Iran giving up permanently any and all other nuclear-fuel cycle activities.

The EU/E3 – supported by the United States – then launched a campaign to force the IAEA Board of Governors to refer the Iranian Safeguarded nuclear programs to the UN Security Council for possible action.

But, according to the Financial Times, having given up on the EU/E3, Ahmadinejad, Iran's new president, will make his new "offer" to the United Nations General Assembly.

"Iran will suggest international cooperation for uranium enrichment, and invite Europe, Russia, China and South Africa to joint ventures in which Iran keeps its nuclear fuel cycle while the international community can make sure there is no diversion."

What the means is that, if the oil-related financial details can be worked out, perhaps Russia (for example) will not only sell nuclear fuel-cycle facilities to Iran, but – in cooperation with China and/or India – will operate them as joint-ventures.

Will the Russians, Chinese, and Indians also provide – at a minimum – assurances that Bush and Blair will not do unto their joint-ventures in Iran what Bush-Blair had done unto Iraq?

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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