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November 15, 2005

Other Parties? Whoops!


by Gordon Prather

Well, Judith Miller is no longer spreading neo-crazy lies and misleading statements on the front page of the New York Times. However, David Sanger is still on the job:

"The Bush administration and three European allies have approved a new offer to be made to Iran in a last-ditch effort to head off a confrontation over its suspected nuclear weapons program.

"The proposal was discussed at length on Tuesday during a meeting between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear monitoring agency, said officials who described their conversation.

"Dr. ElBaradei, who won the Nobel Peace Prize this year, will take the proposal to Iran on behalf of Britain, Germany, France, and the United States, the officials said."

Sanger's report on what U.S. "officials" said was immediately contradicted by Condoleezza Rice.

"Let me make a few comments about the story that was there this morning. The first thing is there is no U.S.-European proposal to the Iranians.

"I want to say that categorically!

"There isn't and there won't be!

"We are doing what we have been doing for some time, which is keeping our partners – our diplomatic partners are keeping us apprised of their thinking about the future of their negotiations with the Iranians."

Whoops! Keeping our partners apprised?

"We are not parties to these negotiations and we don't intend to become parties to the negotiation!"

Did you get that?

We are not now, never have been, and don't intend to be a "party" to the Paris negotiations!

You know – the negotiations wherein the EU3 has undertaken to provide the Iranians "objective guarantees" that the EU3 will no longer be intimidated by the United States, and that the EU3 will ensure that Iran's "inalienable" right under the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons to the "production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination" will be respected.

But then Condi went on to say:

"But I don't want to get any further into details about what may be being contemplated by other parties to the negotiations – by the parties to the negotiations."

Whoops! Other parties to the negotiations?

So who is telling the truth – Sanger or Condi?

Of course, even if Sanger is telling the truth, he's not telling the whole truth.

In particular, Sanger has never reported on the offer the Iranians made to the EU last March to voluntarily "confine" their nuclear activities.

In particular, the Iranians offered to forego indefinitely the chemical processing of spent fuel to recover unspent uranium and plutonium.

The Iranians also offered to limit their uranium-enrichment activities to those required to meet the contingency requirements of Iran's power reactors. (In other words, if we prevent the Russians from providing new fuel for the power reactor they are building at Bushehr – as we have already done for Russian-built reactors in India – the Iranians want to be able to produce their own fuel.)

Finally, the Iranians offered to submit to "continuous on-site presence of IAEA inspectors at the conversion and enrichment facilities to provide unprecedented added guarantees."

The Iranian offer was made, confidentially, to the EU3 on March 23, 2005.

Of course, "our diplomatic partners" have been "keeping us apprised" with respect to their confidential negotiations with the Iranians (to which we are not a party).

But Sanger didn't tell us about the confidential Iranian offer, much less the substance of it.

When the Iranians got no response to their offer – nor an offer on the part of the EU3 – the Iranians went public [.pdf], announcing on Aug. 1, 2005, the "phased" implementation of the "confined" uranium-enrichment program set out in their March proposal.

Sanger still didn't tell us the substance of the March proposal, now made public.

But on Aug. 9, the EU3 responded [.pdf] as follows:

"We do not believe that Iran has any operational need to engage in fissile material production activities of its own, nor any other reason to resume [UF-6 production] activity at Esfahan, if the intentions of its nuclear program are exclusively peaceful."

That, by coincidence, is Condi's belief, too:

"I think it's fair to say that we would be very concerned if the Iranians were left with stockpiles of UF-6 that could be used in nuclear weapons. But I don't want to get any further into details about what may be being contemplated by other parties to the negotiations – by the parties to the negotiations."

Other parties? Whoops!


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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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