Nuclear Bait and Switch

President Clinton inherited the Nunn-Lugar Act mandate to assist Russia – financially and technically – dismantle thousands of excess Soviet nukes, to securely store and to peacefully dispose of the hundreds of tons of excess weapons-grade materials recovered thereby. The rationale for Nunn-Lugar was that it was in our national security interests to help the Russians prevent terrorists from getting their hands on Soviet nukes, nuke technologists and nuke-useable materials.

Clinton spent billions of dollars in the name of "nuclear threat reduction." But most of it was spent by the Pentagon on projects that had little or nothing to do with keeping nukes out of the hands of terrorists.

In particular, Clinton used them to get Russia to join us in implementing Article VI – the total disarmament provision – of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Clinton’s implementation plan was to get every nation-state to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). He argued that if nuke tests were prohibited, nukes in existing stockpiles would eventually turn into duds. Furthermore, no new nuke designs – much less new nuke states – could emerge.

Of course, upon taking office, President Bush immediately repudiated the Clinton CTBT-NPT disarmament plan. For all practical purposes, he soon repudiated the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)-NPT Safeguards regime, itself.

You see, not being able to test nukes is not the same as not having nukes. South Africa had produced – before becoming a NPT signatory – six gun-type nukes similar to the one we dropped – untested – on Hiroshima. Israel is widely believed to have several hundred nukes, but – so far as we know – has never tested one. Pakistan was suspected of having nukes for at least a decade before actually testing several of them in 1998.

And not having nukes is not the same as having the capability to produce nukes.

All NPT signatories have an "inalienable right" to acquire any and all nuclear technology. The International Atomic Energy Agency was given the job of ensuring that the nuclear technology so acquired was used for peaceful purposes only.

By 1993, it was realized that countries like Iraq, Iran and possibly North Korea might feel threatened and attempt to game the NPT-IAEA Safeguards system: to declare the peaceful nuclear equipment and activities, but to not declare the non-nuclear dual-use activities needed to actually produce nukes.

Hence, the IAEA needed authority to conduct unannounced inspections at suspect – but undeclared – sites as well. The additional authority was to be provided by an Additional Protocol to the existing IAEA-NPT Safeguards Agreement.

So, when Bush took office, Iraq and North Korea were already subject to what amounted to an Additional Protocol and Iran had agreed to negotiate one with the IAEA.

Well, that presented a problem.

You see, for a least a decade, the neo-crazies had wanted to inflict regime change on oil-rich Iran and Iraq, as well as a few oil-poor countries, such as North Korea. But public opinion polls told them they wouldn’t be allowed to invade a country unless the American electorate could be convinced that the country to be invaded was on the verge of providing nukes to terrorists for use against Americans.

Well, according to Bush, getting Congress to vote for Operation Bait & Switch back in October of 2002 was easy. After all, Congress only authorized him to go to war as a last resort, if the threat to America was imminent and all diplomatic efforts had failed to remove the threat.

However, getting you to believe that Saddam Hussein would have nukes within a few months that he intended to give to al-Qaeda turned out to be "hard work." Especially since IAEA Director General ElBaradei reported to the UN Security Council just days before Bush launched Operation Bait & Switch that: “As of 17 March 2003, the IAEA had found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq.”

But even Bush couldn’t have baited you with a nonexistent nuke terrorist threat without the coordinated assistance of a host of neo-crazies – in and out of government – and their media sycophants.

However, Bush now has a problem. How to convince you that the invasion and occupation of Iran is necessary? That Iran is on the verge of providing nukes to terrorists for use against you?

Well, by continuing to insist right through the election that Saddam Hussein was on the verge of providing nukes to al-Qaeda for use against you. Surely you’re not going to take the word of Mohamed ElBaradei, or Scott Ritter, or David Kay, or Charles Duelfer that he wasn’t.

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.