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January 7, 2006

On Another Planet


by Gordon Prather

Getting rid of Jayson Blair and Judith Miller was a good beginning, but the "Grey Lady" still has "reporters" publishing as "facts" neo-crazy (and eco-wacko) propaganda.

Today, for example, Elaine Sciolino began her report from Paris (Paris?) this way;

"Iran threw negotiations over its nuclear program into disarray on Thursday, abruptly canceling a high-level meeting with the United Nations' monitoring agency in Vienna. The leader of Iran's negotiating team was said to be returning to Tehran."

What’s wrong with Sciolino’s report?

Well, Iran didn’t have any "negotiations" scheduled with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

What the Iranians had scheduled was a discussion with the IAEA of the planned resumption of certain IAEA Safeguarded research activities that Iran had voluntarily suspended almost three years earlier.

The Iranian Safeguards Agreement (with which Iran is in complete compliance) requires Iran to inform the IAEA the nature and scope of any planned Safeguarded activities in sufficient time and in sufficient detail so that the IAEA inspectors will be prepared to monitor those activities, once commenced, to ensure that no Safeguarded materials, equipment or facilities are used in furtherance of a military purpose.

So, what is Sciolino doing in Paris and what negotiations is she talking about?

Well, back 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 just done unto Iraq.

Iran also 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.

Now, Iranian officials had made it clear (a) at the IAEA Board of Governors meetings in March and June, (b) at the Seventh Review Conference of the Treaty in April, and (c) in their Note Verbale to the IAEA of August 1st that any attempt by the EU/E3 to turn their voluntary suspension of uranium enrichment activities into a cessation or long term suspension would be "incompatible with the letter and spirit of the Paris Agreement and therefore unacceptable to Iran."

In other words, as far as the Iranians were concerned, the Paris Agreement to negotiate is history. The Iranians are not – at present – negotiating with anyone.

Sciolino seems not to understand that.

"Certainly Iran's failure to explain its intentions erodes trust in the country as a reliable negotiating partner.

In its letter to the atomic energy agency two days earlier announcing its research plans, Iran gave assurances that it intended to carry out the work under the supervision of agency inspectors, and asked the agency to take the necessary steps for the research to start again.

That position raised speculation that Iran was trying to test whether it could proceed with its nuclear program and stay within the boundaries of its international legal obligations, even if that violated its agreement with the Europeans."

And in Washington, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice seems not to understand it, either.

She warned Iran not to resume nuclear research, saying, "They shouldn't do it because it would really be a sign that they are not prepared to actually make diplomacy work."

According to Sciolino, Rice expressed confidence that the United States would succeed in taking Iran's case to the Security Council for an unspecified punishment should negotiations fail.

What negotiations?

Both of these women are on another planet.

Don’t bother to 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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