Weapons of Mass Murder

In announcing his preemptive invasion of Iraq, President Bush had this to say:

"Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly – yet, our purpose is sure. The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder."

Weapons of mass murder? "Little Boy" in WWII? "Mustard gas" in WWI?

Whatever. Most of the world already knew then that Saddam had never had nukes, nor the makings thereof, and had destroyed all his chemical and biological weapons, and the makings thereof, immediately after the Gulf War of 1991.

Scott Ritter, who was a chief UN inspector in Iraq in those years, recently had this to say:

"One of the tragic ironies of the decision to invade Iraq is that the Iraqi WMD declaration required by Security Council Resolution 1441, submitted by Iraq in December 2002, and summarily rejected by Bush and Blair as repackaged falsehoods, now stands as the most accurate compilation of data yet assembled regarding Iraq’s WMD programs.

"Saddam Hussein has yet to be contradicted on a single point of substantive fact."

Worse still, just weeks before Bush launched his war of aggression, Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, reported to the Security Council 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.”

Not embarrassed at being totally wrong about Iraq – and the IAEA being totally right – President Bush told the UN General Assembly this week that

“We must send a clear message to the rulers of outlaw regimes that sponsor terror and pursue weapons of mass murder: You will not be allowed to threaten the peace and stability of the world.”

Bush is essentially alleging that Iran’s recent decision to resume certain IAEA safeguarded activities constitutes pursuing "weapons of mass murder."

It matters not to Bush that ElBaradei reports that after two years of totally intrusive go-anywhere, see-anything inspections, he can find no indication that Iran now has or ever has had a nuclear weapons program.

Nevertheless, State Department acting spokesman Tom Casey told reporters.

“It is critical to us that Iran maintain its suspension [on all enrichment-related activities, including uranium conversion], that it maintain its adherence to the Paris Agreement [.pdf], and that it not take any steps that would be in violation of that."

So critical that Bush is attempting to get the Board of Governors of the IAEA to refer the “breaking” of that agreement – to which the IAEA is not a party – to the Security Council for “possible action."

Now, the IAEA Statute does provide for the Board to refer an egregious breach of an IAEA Safeguards Agreement – such as the diversion of safeguarded materials to a military purpose – to the Security Council for possible action. But ElBaradei has reported no such egregious breach.

Furthermore, the Paris Agreement was merely to begin negotiations on a mutually acceptable agreement that will provide "objective guarantees” above and beyond those provided by the IAEA Safeguards regime that “Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes” and “will equally provide firm guarantees” to Iran “on nuclear, technological, and economic cooperation and firm commitments on security issues.”

Of course, Bush would have you believe that the Brits-French-Germans are negotiating on behalf of the European Union. But a half-dozen EU member nations – among them Italy, Spain, and Portugal – are openly questioning that presumption.

Last March, Iran did offer [.pdf] the Brits-French-Germans a package of “objective guarantees” that included a voluntary “confinement” of Iran’s nuclear programs, to include forgoing the reprocessing of spent fuel and the production of plutonium.

The Brits-French-Germans completely ignored the Iranian offer. So, four months later, the Iranians alerted the IAEA it intended to resume uranium conversion – subject to IAEA, oversight, of course.

A week later, the Brits-French-Germans finally made their offer [.pdf] – which was predicated on Iran’s "making a binding commitment not to pursue fuel cycle activities other than the construction and operation of light water power and research reactors."

No wonder the Nonaligned Movement – which includes India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia – as well as Russia and China have officially declared their serious opposition to such discriminatory treatment of Iran by the IAEA and to the threats to "refer" to the Security Council Iran’s refusal to give up its inalienable rights under the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

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.