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September 12, 2006

Bolton and the PSI Posse


by Gordon Prather

Ever since the Soviet Union disintegrated, the United Nations and its enforcement agency – the Security Council – has more often than not thwarted what the neo-crazies wanted to do.

In particular, in 2002 the Security Council refused to sanction Bush's preemptive invasion of Iraq.

The Security Council had been told Bush had "intelligence" that Saddam Hussein had renewed his attempt to achieve a uranium-enrichment capability for producing nuclear weapons with which to nuke us and "our allies."

But the Council knew that intrusive go-anywhere, see-anything inspections in Iraq by its International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had failed to find any indication of such a renewal.

Well, Bush defied the Security Council and invaded Iraq anyway. Then Bush had Undersecretary of State John Bolton announce the establishment of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), a "coalition of the willing," willing to act – as in Iraq – even in defiance of the Security Council, the UN Charter, and international law generally.

According to Bolton, the PSI posse had to be established because "proliferators and those facilitating the procurement of deadly capabilities are circumventing existing laws, treaties, and controls against WMD proliferation."

Here are excerpts from Bolton's explication [.pdf] – made about the time Bush had been proven wrong about Iraq – of the PSI's necessity before the House International Relations Committee.

"We aim ultimately not just to prevent the spread of WMD, but also to eliminate or 'roll back' such weapons from rogue states and terrorist groups that already possess them or are close to doing so. While we stress peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the proliferation threat, as President Bush has said repeatedly, we rule out no options. …

"While we pursue diplomatic dialogue wherever possible, the United States and its allies must be willing to employ more robust techniques, such as (1) economic sanctions; (2) interdiction and seizure; and (3) as the case of Iraq demonstrates, preemptive military force where required. …

"The hard lessons learned by Iraq must resonate with other proliferating countries. Those countries should heed that thwarting international obligations and standards – by seeking weapons of mass destruction – is not in their national interests and will not be tolerated by the international community."

Which "proliferating countries" does Bolton have in mind?

"We now know that Iran is developing a uranium mine, a uranium conversion facility, a massive uranium-enrichment facility designed to house tens of thousands of centrifuges, and a heavy-water production plant."

All of them subject – of course – to Iran's IAEA Safeguards Agreement.

"This costly infrastructure would support the production of both highly enriched uranium and plutonium for nuclear weapons."

Notice that Bolton said "would" – not "could."

"While Iran claims that its nuclear program is peaceful and transparent, we are convinced it is otherwise."

So when Bush made Bolton – by "recess appointment" – our UN ambassador last year, Bolton (surprise, surprise!) immediately began to demand that the Security Council apply the "robust techniques" of the PSI to "proliferators" (such as Iran) and to those "facilitating the procurement of deadly capabilities" (such as Russia and China).

Then, this year, Bush-Rice-Bolton strong-armed the IAEA Board of Governors into "reporting" the "Iranian dossier" – which contained mostly IAEA reports certifying Iran to be in total compliance with its Safeguards Agreement – to the Security Council, with the expectation that the Security Council could somehow be strong-armed by Bolton into determining under Article 39 of the UN Charter that Iran's safeguarded programs constituted a "threat to the peace."

Quoth Bolton:

"This is a real test for the Security Council. There's just no doubt that for close to 20 years, the Iranians have been pursuing nuclear weapons through a clandestine program that we've uncovered.

"If the UN Security Council can't deal with the proliferation of nuclear weapons, can't deal with the greatest threat we have with a country like Iran – that's one of the leading state sponsors of terrorism – if the Security Council can't deal with that, you have a real question of what it can deal with."

On Bolton's first try, the Council essentially remanded the "Iranian dossier" to the IAEA Board. On his second, the Council was strong-armed into passing UNSC Resolution 1696, but, as of this writing the Council has yet to determine under Article 39 that Iran's safeguarded activities constitute a" threat to the peace."

No Article 39 determination, no UN-sanctioned "robust techniques."

So what's a poor neo-crazy recess-appointee – whose Senate confirmation hearing has just been postponed, indefinitely – to do?

Well, look for Bolton and his PSI posse to saddle up and ride.


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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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