Two weeks ago, during his Senate confirmation
hearings, nominee Robert Gates was asked if he believed the Iranians were trying
to acquire a nuclear weapons capability.
Gates said he did.
He was then asked if he believed "the Iranians would consider using that nuclear
weapons capability against the nation of Israel."
Gates said he didn’t. In fact, he believed the Iranians were seeking a nuclear
weapons capability as a "deterrent." After all, Gates noted that –
"They are surrounded by powers with nuclear weapons: Pakistan to their east,
the Russians to the north, the Israelis to the west and us in the Persian Gulf."
Notice that Gates was asked not about nuclear weapons, but about "nuclear
What’s the difference?
Well, to the Likudniks and their Congressional sycophants, there isn’t any.
But, as far as the Treaty
on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Statute of the International
Atomic Energy Agency, and the Guidelines of the Nuclear
Suppliers Group are concerned, there is an enormous difference.
As an NPT signatory, Iran has an "inalienable right" to develop "without discrimination"
the capability to enrich uranium – subject, of course, to an IAEA Safeguards
Agreement, entered into for the exclusive purpose of verifying that no "source
or special fissionable material" has been diverted to a military purpose.
Furthermore, the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and
China – as signatories to the NPT– have all undertaken to "facilitate" that
development by Iran.
Nevertheless, despite at least a dozen quarterly reports by IAEA Director-General
Mohamed ElBaradei that he could find no indication that Iran had ever diverted
any source or special fissionable material to a military purpose, Bush and the
Likudniks have managed to get the IAEA Board of Governors to repeatedly violate
the IAEA Statute and the UN Security Council to repeatedly disregard the UN
Charter, demanding that Iran give up its rights guaranteed by both the NPT and
by the IAEA Statute.
Now, you might think that the Likudniks – and maybe even Bush and Bobby Gates
– know something ElBaradei doesn’t know. That they are not complete idiots.
That they don’t really consider an Iranian capability to enrich uranium
in an IAEA Safeguarded facility to be tantamount to Iran having nuclear weapons.
But no, one of the more interesting revelations elicited by Seymour
Hersh from Scott Ritter during their televised
public discussion this past October of Ritter’s latest book Target
Iran, was that Ritter had cultivated a close working relationship with
Israeli intelligence analysts, beginning while a US Marine intelligence officer,
assigned to the staff of General Norman Schwartzkopf during Operation Desert
Storm, continuing through his seven years as Chief Inspector for the UN Commission
on Arms Control in Iraq, even informing the
books Ritter has written since resigning from UNSCOM.
After praising ElBaradei for having conducted a multi-year program of inspections
of unprecedented scope and thoroughness, resulting in no evidence of undisclosed
nuclear activity, much less a diversion of source or special fissionable materials,
Ritter revealed that Israeli intelligence has also been unable – despite
considerable use of on-the-ground "human intelligence" and analysis of spy-satellite
images – to find any indication of a hidden Iranian nuclear program.
"Israel has drawn a red line that says, not only will they not tolerate a nuclear
weapons program in Iran, they will not tolerate anything dealing with nuclear
energy, especially enrichment, that could be used in a nuclear program.
"So, even if Iran is telling the truth – Iran says, 'We have no nuclear
weapons program. We just want peaceful nuclear energy' – Israel says, 'So long
as Iran has any enrichment capability, this constitutes a threat to Israel,'
and they are pressuring the United States to take forceful action."
So, Bush and Gates and the Likudniks don’t know something about Iran’s
nuclear programs that ElBaradei doesn’t know, that our intelligence community
doesn’t know, that Congress doesn’t know.
Speaking of the Best Congress Money Can Buy, what were they doing while Bush-Bolton-Rice
were corrupting the IAEA Board of Governors and emasculating the UN Security
Well, busy passing the Iran
Freedom and Support Act which, inter alia, declared it "should" be
the policy of the United States not to bring into force
an agreement for cooperation with the government of any country unless "either
on its own initiative or pursuant to a binding decision of the United Nations
Security Council, suspended all nuclear assistance to Iran and all transfers
of advanced conventional weapons and missiles to Iran."
That law was aimed at Russia, an NPT signatory still attempting to honor its
NPT commitments to Iran.
Then, in their final hours, the 109th Congress enacted the US-India
Nuclear Cooperation Act (.pdf), which, inter alia, declared it "shall"
be the policy of the United States to
"Secure India's full and active participation in United States efforts to dissuade,
isolate, and, if necessary, sanction and contain Iran for its efforts to acquire
weapons of mass destruction, including a nuclear weapons capability and the
capability to enrich uranium or reprocess nuclear fuel, and the means to deliver
weapons of mass destruction."
What if India is not assessed by the President to be fully and actively participating
in such efforts?
He is to provide them a report setting out
"(I) the measures the United States Government has taken to secure India's
full and active participation in such efforts;
"(II) the responses of the Government of India to such measures; and
"(III) the measures the United States Government plans to take in the coming
year to secure India's full and active participation;"
As for the Likudniks, upon emerging from a meeting last week with Bush, Israeli
Prime Minister Olmert alluded once again to the possibility of Israeli military
action against Iran, saying, "the people of Iran must understand that if they
do not accept the request of the international community [to give up their inalienable
rights], they're going to pay dearly."