Iran’s Stealthy Nukes

Apparently President Bush believes he has been given another four years to subvert and/or replace the half-dozen or so regimes he deems to be either a threat to the “freedom” of its citizens or to our “national security.”

Iran is at the top of his list.

How else to explain the concerted effort this week by the neo-crazies and their media sycophants to subvert the International Atomic Energy Agency’s director general’s report to the IAEA Board of Governors on the status of his two-year go-anywhere, see-anything inspection of Iran’s nuclear programs.

Not coincidentally, someone ordered the release of an unclassified version of the report former CIA head George Tenet sent to Congress last year entitled “Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, 1 July Through 31 December 2003.”

The neo-crazies – in and out of government – are spinning last year’s report as if it were this year’s report and, hence, justification for regime change in Iran, if not a casus belli. Their media sycophants are being typically sycophantic.

Here’s what Tenet had to say about Iran in last year’s report.

“The United States remains convinced that Tehran has been pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons program, in contradiction to its obligations as a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).”

Notice that “Slam-Dunk” Tenet didn’t tell Congress that he was convinced, or even that the intelligence community he headed at the time was convinced. No, “Slam-dunk” simply notes that “The United States” – presumably personified by President Bush – remains convinced. Tenet goes on to say,

“During 2003, Iran continued to pursue an indigenous nuclear fuel cycle, ostensibly for civilian purposes, but with clear weapons potential. International scrutiny and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections and safeguards will most likely prevent Tehran from using facilities declared to the IAEA directly for its weapons program as long as Tehran remains a party to the NPT.”

So, a year ago, Tenet assessed that if Iran remained a NPT-signatory, Iran could probably not successfully exploit the “clear weapons potential” of its indigenous nuclear fuel cycle.

In October 2003, Iran had provided the IAEA what purported to be a complete and final disclosure of its nuclear program, committing itself to correct the failures and past breaches of its obligations under its existing IAEA Safeguards Agreement.

In November 2003, Iran agreed to cooperate with the IAEA in accordance with the provisions of the go-anywhere, see-anything Model Additional Protocol, and Iran signed such an additional protocol to its comprehensive safeguards agreement in December 2003.

Once the additional protocol is ratified, Iran will be required to declare its plans for the succeeding 10-year period for developing its nuclear fuel-cycle, as well as its current nuclear fuel cycle-related R&D activities, even those that do not involve “nuclear material.”

Meanwhile, Iran decided to voluntarily suspend nuclear materials enrichment and reprocessing activities as a confidence-building measure – pursuant to a request by the IAEA Board of Governors in September 2003 – and invited the IAEA to verify this suspension.

The focus of the IAEA’s work in Iran over the last two years included verifying the origin of the enriched-uranium contamination found at a number of locations; determining the extent of Iran’s efforts to import, manufacture, and use centrifuges of both the P-1 and P-2 designs; and developing a comprehensive understanding of Iran’s uranium enrichment program and related R&D.

Director General ElBaradei was able to report to the IAEA Board this year that he had reached the conclusion that all “nuclear material” in Iran had been properly accounted for, that none of it had been “diverted to prohibited activities,” and that – subject to further investigations at the origin of the uranium-enrichment equipment Iran imported – he was inclined to decide all related issues in Iran’s favor.

In a letter dated Nov. 14, 2004, Iran notified the IAEA secretariat that it had decided to continue and extend the voluntary suspension, making all nuclear materials enrichment-related and processing activities – including the conversion of yellowcake to uranium metal, tetrafluoride, and hexafluoride – subject to IAEA containment and surveillance measures.

ElBaradei – after conducting a two-year-long go-anywhere, see-anything inspection – reported to the IAEA Board of Governors last week that he has found no evidence as yet that Iran has a “clandestine nuclear weapons program.”

Of course, that’s what ElBaradei told the UN Security Council last year about Iraq. So the neo-crazies are spinning ElBaradei’s report as justification for regime change in Iran, if not a casus belli.

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.