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March 7, 2006

ElBaradei's Swan Song?


by Gordon Prather

At the insistence of the Cheney cabal, the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency had a "special" meeting a month ago and passed a resolution [.pdf] requesting that the IAEA director-general:

"[C]ontinue with his efforts to implement the Agency's Safeguards Agreement with Iran, to implement the Additional Protocol to that Agreement pending its entry into force – with a view to providing credible assurances regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran – and to pursue additional transparency measures, required for the Agency to be able to resolve outstanding issues and reconstruct the history and nature of all aspects of Iran's past nuclear activities."

Now, according to the IAEA Statute, the IAEA's primary mission is " to seek to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health, and prosperity throughout the world."

However, the IAEA has a secondary mission:

"To establish and administer safeguards designed to ensure that special fissionable and other materials, services, equipment, facilities, and information made available by the Agency or at its request or under its supervision or control are not used in such a way as to further any military purpose…."

The Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons of 1970 – after affirming "the principle that the benefits of peaceful applications of nuclear technology … should be available for peaceful purposes to all Parties of the Treaty"required each signatory not already having nuclear weapons "to accept Safeguards, as set forth in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency … with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices."

Now, there already were – and still are – Safeguards Agreements in force with IAEA members that are completely unrelated to the NPT. In particular, India – which has never been a signatory to the NPT – has a number of nuclear facilities (including four operating nuclear power plants and two under construction) subject to IAEA Safeguards. Those agreements will remain in force for the life of the facility or the duration of safeguarded activities taking place within.

However, Iran has always been an NPT signatory. Hence, the Safeguards Agreement covering all its (a) "source or special nuclear materials," (b) facilities where such materials are stored, and (c) activities involving the chemical or physical transformation of such materials, remains in force only so long as Iran is a signatory to the NPT.

For more than two years, Iran has been negotiating an Additional Protocol to its existing Safeguards Agreement, and was, until recently, cooperating with the IAEA as if the Additional Protocol was actually in force. But it isn't, yet, and probably never will be, since the Iranian parliament has directed its Atomic Energy Agency to stop cooperating as if it was.

The NPT does not require non-nuke NPT signatories to negotiate and conclude an Additional Protocol to their IAEA Safeguards Agreements. Hence, the IAEA Board most certainly cannot make such a requirement of Iran.

Much less can the IAEA Board require "additional transparency measures" that go beyond those authorized under Iran's Safeguards Agreement – even beyond those that would have been authorized in an Additional Protocol – so that the Board can "resolve outstanding issues and reconstruct the history and nature of all aspects of Iran's past nuclear activities."

Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei has spent more than a year investigating neo-crazy charges that Iran has conducted nuclear activities in furtherance of some military purpose at various Iranian military sites, including Lavizan, Parchin, and Kolahduz. On Jan. 27, 2006, ElBaradei's deputy even confronted the Iranians with what he characterized as information provided him about a military plan to construct a small facility to convert uranium oxide into uranium tetrafluoride.

The CIA claims they gleaned this "intelligence" from what they suspect is a "stolen" Iranian military laptop computer. However, ElBaradei has yet to find any "indication" of that or any other use of source or special nuclear materials in furtherance of a military purpose.

And, according to the Iranians, so says ElBaradei's most recent – and final –report, which was circulated last week to the 35 members of the IAEA Board.

Needless to say, that isn't what U.S. officials say, echoed by domestic and international neo-crazy media sycophants.

"We've said that during this time the regime in Iran has an opportunity to change their ways and change their behavior when it comes to the nuclear program," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

And if they don't?


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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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