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September 2, 2006

Whoops! Bolton’s Bad


by Gordon Prather

Three years ago, in deciding to adhere to an Additional Protocol to their Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency in advance of its ratification, the Iranians voluntarily "declared" certain activities many months before they were obligated to do so under their existing Safeguards Agreement.

And, on 27 April, 2006, the Iranians informed the IAEA that it was "fully prepared" to continue voluntarily adhering to the Additional Protocol in advance of its ratification "provided" Iran’s IAEA "dossier" remained "within the framework" of the IAEA.

The IAEA Board ignored the Iranian warning, and directed IAEA’s Director-General, Mohamed ElBaradei, to report the entire Iranian dossier [.pdf] to the UN Security Council, with the expectation that the Council would "determine" under Article 39 of the UN Charter that Iran’s Safeguarded programs somehow constituted "a threat to peace in the region."

Of course, the Security Council has thus far declined to make such a ridiculous determination.

But, as threatened, the Iranians promptly reduced their cooperation with the IAEA to levels not much greater than required by their existing Safeguards Agreement.

It is to that Agreement and nothing more that the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons requires Iran to adhere and looks to the IAEA to verify compliance!

If you carefully read ElBaradei’s quarterly reports to the IAEA Board, you can determine for yourself that for at least the past three years the IAEA has verified total compliance by Iran with that Safeguards Agreement.

Nevertheless, Bonkers Bolton managed to strong-arm the Security Council into passing Resolution 1696 which, inter alia, "demanded" that – in order to satisfy certain IAEA Board members – Iran "suspend" all enrichment-related activities.

Well, ElBaradei has just made his next quarterly report [.pdf] to the IAEA Board and to the Security Council.

ElBaradei once again confirmed that Iran remained in total compliance with its original NPT-required Safeguards Agreement. And that Iran continues to provide cooperation on certain matters beyond that required.

But, ElBaradei reported that Iran has not re-suspended uranium-enrichment activities as improperly "demanded" by the Security Council on behalf of the IAEA Board of Governors, nor was Iran continuing to act in accordance with the un-ratified Additional Protocol.

Now, so long as those activities Iran has refused to re-suspend remain subject to IAEA Safeguards – which they will, so long as Iran doesn’t withdraw from the NPT – those activities can never constitute a threat to the peace.

So, why, for the past three years, have Bolton and his Gang of Three (the Brits, French and Germans) been threatening to do unto Iran what the Israelis have just done unto Lebanon, unless Iran suspends – indefinitely – its pursuit of a uranium-enrichment capability?

And even more puzzling, why have the Iranians stubbornly refused to cease pursuit of a hopelessly obsolescent Pakistani-castoff uranium-enrichment capability, risking thereby a pre-emptive attack by the United States, perhaps involving nukes?

Maybe it’s because, as Iran’s UN representative – Javad Zarif – told the Council in the aftermath of their passage of Resolution 1696:

"This is not the first time that Iran’s endeavors to stand on its own feet and make technological advances have faced the stiff resistance and concerted pressure of some powers permanently represented in the Security Council.

"More recently, Saddam Hussein's aggression against the Islamic Republic of Iran on 22 September 1980, and his swift advancement to occupy 30000 sq. kilometers of Iranian territory, did not trouble the same permanent members of the Security Council enough to consider it a threat against international peace and security, or even to make the routine call for a cease-fire and withdrawal.

"Nor did they find it necessary to even adopt a resolution for seven long days after the aggression, hoping that their generally-held utter miscalculation that Saddam could put an end to the Islamic Republic within a week would be realized.

"Even then, and for the following two long years, they did not deem [it] fit to call for a withdrawal of the invading forces.

"Iran's peaceful nuclear program poses no threat to international peace and security, and therefore dealing with this issue in the Security Council is unwarranted and void of any legal basis or practical utility.

"Far from reflecting – as advertised – the concerns of the international community, the approach of the sponsors flouts the stated position of the overwhelming majority of the international community, clearly reflected in the most recent statements by Foreign Ministers of the Non-Aligned Movement and of the OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference), and partly reflected in the June 2006 IAEA Board Chairman’s Conclusion.

"The Non-Aligned Movement, comprising an overwhelming majority of this Organization, in the recent statement of its Ministers in Putrajaya ‘stressed that there should be no undue pressure or interference in the Agency's activities, especially its verification process, which would jeopardize the efficiency and credibility of the Agency’, and ‘nothing should be interpreted in a way as inhibiting or restricting this right of States to develop atomic energy for peaceful purposes’ and ‘reaffirmed that States' choices and decisions in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear technology and its fuel cycle policies must be respected.’

So there you have it. This is where Iran has chosen to make its stand. Defending the NPT, the IAEA-NPT nuke proliferation prevention regime, the IAEA Board of Governors, the UN Security Council and the UN Charter, itself, against assaults by Bonkers Bolton and his Gang of Three.

On the basis of the initial reaction of the Italians, Russians, Chinese and even the Brits to ElBaradei’s latest report, the Iranians have made a good choice.


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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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