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September 27, 2005

Case Closed, Condi


by Gordon Prather

Ever since Condi Rice became secretary of state, she and her lackeys have been running around in circles of diminishing radius, muttering something about the "necessity" of referring Iran to the UN Security Council for "action."

What necessity?

What action?

Well, according to their statute, whenever inspectors for the International Atomic Energy Agency discover "special nuclear materials" that are – or ought to be – subject to an IAEA Safeguards Agreement being used "in furtherance of a military purpose," the IAEA Board of Governors is required to report such use to the Security Council for possible action.

Way back in 1991, IAEA inspectors discovered that Iraq – a signatory to the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons – had attempted to produce fissile materials "in furtherance of a military purpose."

Under Iraq's existing Safeguards Agreement, the IAEA had had no authority to look for special nuclear materials and/or activities involving their physical or chemical transformation that should have been declared but weren't.

So by 1997, the IAEA Board had developed a Model Additional Protocol – providing intrusive go-anywhere, see-anything authority similar to that provided the IAEA in Iraq by the Security Council – which all IAEA members were urged to accept.

In 2003, Iran did sign an Additional Protocol, but the Iranian Parliament has not ratified it. (And, thanks to Condi, may never.)

Iran's existing Safeguards Agreement [.pdf] is virtually the same as Iraq's. Hence, the IAEA is only authorized to inspect facilities and activities that Iran has declared.

However, pending ratification, the Iranians volunteered to cooperate with the IAEA as if the Additional Protocol was in force.

But, if Condi wants to refer Iran to the Security Council for noncompliance with its Safeguards Agreement, it is the original agreement, in force since 1974, that counts.

Under that agreement, the Iranians were not obliged to inform the IAEA about any of their activities that did not involve the acquisition, disposition, storage, or physical or chemical transformation of special nuclear materials.

In particular, they were under no obligation to tell the IAEA they were buying or producing equipment that could be used to physically or chemically transform special nuclear materials. They were under no obligation to tell the IAEA about the plant they were building at Natanz, nor about the thousands of gas centrifuges they had been attempting to manufacture for use in that plant.

Under their existing Safeguards Agreement, the Iranians were obligated to tell the IAEA about Natanz only in sufficient time so that once special nuclear materials were introduced into the Natanz plant, the IAEA would be in a position to determine whether or not those materials were diverted to some military purpose.

Hence, nearly all the "violations" that Condi and the neo-crazies are loudly claiming the Iranians were guilty of over the past 20 years were not violations of their existing Safeguards Agreement at all.

True, when the Iranians began to divulge everything they had done since 1974, there were some things they should have reported, but hadn't.

For example, their Safeguards Agreement says that "the objective of the safeguards procedures set forth in this part of the Agreement is the timely detection of diversion of significant quantities of nuclear material from peaceful nuclear activities to the manufacture of nuclear weapons."

What is a significant quantity?

For referring Iran to the Security Council, the significant quantity is defined to be that quantity of material containing "one-kilogram equivalent" of weapons-grade uranium or plutonium.

However, the IAEA has decreed that the acquisition or production of any amount of special nuclear materials – even milligram quantities – has to be reported.

Iran is not the only country – South Korea is another – failing to report to the IAEA at the time the acquisition or production of materials containing less than "one-kilogram equivalent."

But the Iranians have now made those reports. So, insofar as complying with their existing Safeguards Agreement is concerned, case closed, Condi.

Furthermore, after two years of go-anywhere, see-anything inspections, ElBaradei has found no indication that any special nuclear materials or activities involving them are being – or have been – used in furtherance of a military purpose.

Nevertheless, Condi and her lackeys are charging that Iran is in noncompliance with its Safeguards Agreement, and thus now "within the competence of the Security Council, as the organ bearing the main responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security."

Nonsense. Condi needs to reread – and try real hard to comprehend – the existing Iranian Safeguards Agreement, the IAEA Statute, and the UN Charter.


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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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