ElBaradei’s Clintonian Mission

Mohammed ElBaradei – Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency – was in Israel last week. Pakistan next week? Or maybe India? Or North Korea?

All in pursuit of a nuke-free world.

But getting rid of nukes is not ElBaradei’s job.

True, the IAEA was assigned the collateral duty of Safeguards “inspectorate” by Article III of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

But nowhere in the IAEA Charter, or in the NPT, is the IAEA assigned the mission of ridding the world of nukes.

So, where did ElBaradei ever get the idea?

Well, apparently, from Bill Clinton.

When Clinton came to power, the Nunn-Lugar Nuclear Threat Reduction program was already underway. Nunn-Lugar provided U.S. financial and technical assistance – principally to Russia – for dismantling excess Soviet nukes and peaceful disposition of the fissile materials thereby recovered.

But for Clinton, the principal threat was not Soviet “loose nukes”; it was the continued existence of the huge Russian and U.S. nuke stockpiles.

So Clinton set out – unwittingly assisted by a Republican Congress — to disarm us, along with the Russians.

He first hijacked Nunn-Lugar, transforming it into a game of tit-for-tat disarmament, with the IAEA refereeing the game.

The so-called U.S.-IAEA-Russia Trilateral Initiative was launched in September 1996. (ElBaradei was promoted to IAEA Director General in July, 1997.) The first order of Trilateral business was the development of the disarmament protocols – the rules of the new game.

In June 2000, Presidents Clinton and Putin agreed to each transparently and irreversibly dispose – subject to IAEA oversight and Trilateral protocols – of 34 metric tons of plutonium recovered from dismantled nukes

Now, as it happens, Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty does say:

“Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

But until Clinton came to power, no one had paid much attention to it.

Clinton decided that ridding the world of nukes would be his principal legacy.

He would implement Article VI and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty would be his vehicle.

The CTBT is – on its face – merely a commitment by signatory nations to never again test nukes for any reason. Clinton told Congress the CTBT would lock-in U.S. nuke superiority. But Clinton convinced the nuke have-nots that the CTBT would effectively disarm us, the nukes already in stockpile eventually turning into “duds.”

In 2000, despite the fact that in 1998 both India and Pakistan – neither country a NPT signatory – had detonated nukes, and despite the fact that the Senate had refused to even consider ratifying the CTBT, the disarmament crowd considered the NPT Review Conference a success.

That was principally because at the 2000 conference the Clinton administration committed the United States to

“[A]n unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon states to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament to which all states parties are committed.”

But what about the Israeli, Indian and Pakistani “nuclear arsenals”? None of them are NPT or CTBT signatories.

Enter the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Established in 1974, NSG “Guidelines for Nuclear Transfer” have long required the acceptance by the recipient state – whether NPT signatory or not – of IAEA Safeguards on certain imported items. For example, there are facilities in Pakistan – not an NPT signatory – that have long been subject to IAEA Safeguards.

But, as a consequence of what the IAEA found in Iraq in the aftermath of the Gulf War, the NSG has also promulgated “Guidelines for Transfers of Nuclear-Related Dual-Use Equipment, Material and Related Technology.”

If any new NSG transfers are required by NSG Guidelines to be made subject to IAEA Safeguards, the NSG now requires all existing “nuclear” equipment at all facilities in the country be made subject.

If the IAEA subsequently discovers non-compliance with a Safeguards Agreement – NPT signatory or not – the IAEA will report that to the UN Security Council.

If that non-compliance constitutes – under the UN Charter – a threat to regional or world peace, the Council can invoke sanctions, even authorizing the use of force.

So what is ElBaradei’s disarmament game plan? Apparently it is to get Israel, Pakistan and North Korea to accept some NSG equipment that will require them to subject their entire nuclear establishment – including their nuke production facilities – to a full-scope IAEA Safeguards Agreement.

Rots of ruck, ElBaradei.

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Author: Gordon Prather

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.