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December 27, 2005

ElBaradei Isn't Perfect


by Gordon Prather

In October, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that the Peace Prize for 2005 was to be shared, in two equal parts, between the International Atomic Energy Agency and its director-general, Mohamed ElBaradei, "for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way."

According to the IAEA statute, that's their job:

"The agency shall seek to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world.

"It shall ensure, so far as it is able, that assistance provided by it or at its request or under its supervision or control is not used in such a way as to further any military purpose."

Hence, the primary objective of the IAEA is to facilitate the safe and secure transfer – and subsequent peaceful application – of "atomic energy."

The IAEA statute establishes a mechanism – the IAEA Safeguards regime – for accomplishing its secondary objective: to ensure that "special fissionable and other materials" are "not used in such a way as to further any military purpose."

The three objectives of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons – which entered into force 20 years after the IAEA establishment – are:

  • to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology,
  • to foster the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and
  • to further the goal of achieving general and complete disarmament.

The NPT attempts to "freeze" the number of nuclear-weapon states by requiring all other NPT signatories to forswear nuclear weapons and to conclude comprehensive Safeguards Agreements with the IAEA for the "exclusive purpose" of assuring all NPT-signatories that nuclear materials are not being diverted from peaceful uses to the production of nuclear weapons.

These IAEA Safeguards agreements remain in force only so long as the agreement state remains a signatory to the NPT.

In December 2003, Iran signed an Additional Protocol to its existing Safeguards Agreement and immediately began to adhere to it, even though it had not officially entered "into force," then or now.

Subsequently, Iran has allowed ElBaradei and his IAEA inspectors to go almost anywhere, see almost anything, and interview almost anyone even remotely connected to Iran's nuclear program. On the eve of his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize, ElBaradei had found no evidence that any "source" or "special nuclear materials" were being – or had been – used in furtherance of any military purpose.

However, despite a complete lack of evidence, the neo-crazies – in and out of government – continue to insist that Iran has (and that Iraq had) an advanced nuke-development program that the Nobel laureate can't find.

ElBaradei gave the lie to their insistence about Iraq three years ago, and the Nobel Committee apparently believes he has given the lie to their insistence, now, about Iran.

However, ElBaradei isn't perfect.

In accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, he had this – inter alia – to say:

"I have no doubt that, if we hope to escape self-destruction, then nuclear weapons should have no place in our collective conscience, and no role in our security.

"To that end, we must ensure – absolutely – that no more countries acquire these deadly weapons.

"We must see to it that nuclear-weapon states take concrete steps toward nuclear disarmament.

"And we must put in place a security system that does not rely on nuclear deterrence."

Now, insofar as that's ElBaradei saying "we" on behalf of fellow peaceniks, that's OK. But insofar as it's the IAEA director-general saying "we" on behalf of his Nobel laureate staff, that's not OK.

In particular, the IAEA is not a disarmament agency. Nor is it a nuke counter-proliferation agency.

But ElBaradei does go on to make one proposal that could perhaps involve the IAEA.

ElBaradei wants international control over operations producing nuclear material that could be used in weapons.

"I am hoping that we can make these operations multinational – so that no one country can have exclusive control over any such operation.

"My plan is to begin by setting up a reserve fuel bank, under IAEA control, so that every country will be assured that it will get the fuel needed for its bona fide peaceful nuclear activities.

"This assurance of supply will remove the incentive – and the justification – for each country to develop its own fuel cycle."

Oh yeah?

Since 1975, Iran has been a partner in EURODIF, an international uranium-enrichment consortium, but has yet to receive either enriched uranium or the return of its billion-dollar investment.

 


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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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