Doing Bush’s Bidding

The Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) begins by affirming "that all parties to the treaty are entitled to participate in the fullest possible exchange of scientific information for – and to contribute alone or in cooperation with other states to – the further development of the applications of atomic energy for peaceful purposes."

But the NPT requires all signatories not already having nuclear weapons to conclude a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), with a view to preventing diversion of “source or special fissionable material” to the production of nuclear weapons.

Article 28 of the agreement between Iran and the IAEA "for the application of safeguards in connection with the treaty" says,

"The objective of the safeguards procedures set forth in this part of the agreement is the timely detection of diversion of significant quantities of nuclear material from peaceful nuclear activities to the manufacture of nuclear weapons or of other nuclear explosive devices or for purposes unknown, and deterrence of such diversion by the risk of early detection."

Accordingly, the director-general and his designated inspectors “shall have access at all times to all places” as necessary “to account for [safeguarded] source and special fissionable materials” and “to determine whether there is compliance with the undertaking against use in furtherance of any military purpose.”

When IAEA inspectors do determine that safeguarded materials have been used “in furtherance of any military purpose,” they shall report such noncompliance to the director-general, who shall thereupon transmit the report to the Board of Governors.

Then, according to the IAEA Statute,

"If the Board, upon examination of relevant information reported to it by the director-general, finds that the Agency is not able to verify that there has been no diversion of nuclear material required to be safeguarded under this agreement, to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, it may make the reports provided for in paragraph C of Article XII of the Statute of the Agency."

But more than a year ago, ElBaradei reported to the Board that “all the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities.”

How then to explain the resolution [.pdf] adopted by the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Sept. 24 with respect to implementation of the NPT safeguards agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran?

After recalling that "nothing in the treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable rights of all the parties to the treaty to develop research, production, and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination," the Board then proceeds to discriminate.

It calls on Iran "to observe fully its commitments," voluntarily made to the Brits, the French, and the Germans, for the duration of the Paris Agreement negotiations – to which the IAEA is not a party – "and to return to the negotiating process that has made good progress in the last two years."

Good progress?

Who says?

The aforesaid Paris Agreement also begins with the Brits-French-Germans recognizing "Iran’s rights under the NPT exercised in conformity with its obligations under the treaty, without discrimination."

At a meeting in March 2005, whereupon both parties were to make preliminary proposals as to how each side was to provide "objective guarantees" to the other, the Iranians made their proposal [.pdf], but the Brits-French-Germans didn’t.

So the Iranians offered to give them until June, perhaps July.

But Iran made it clear that any attempt to turn their voluntary suspension of uranium-enrichment activities into a cessation or long-term suspension would be "incompatible with the letter and spirit of the Paris Agreement and therefore unacceptable to Iran."

When a Brit-French-German proposal had still not been received by late July, the Iranians informed the IAEA that they would be resuming uranium conversion at Isfahan as soon as the IAEA was prepared to monitor their activities.

Thereupon the Brits-French-Germans finally did make a proposal [.pdf], in which they required Iran – among other things – "not to pursue fuel-cycle activities other than the construction and operation of light-water power and research reactors."

So what did the IAEA Board do? Basically, they urged Iran to accept the Brits-French-Germans on their offer – or else!

Even though the IAEA Board would thereby essentially be requiring Iran to forfeit its "inalienable" rights, guaranteed under the NPT, "to participate in the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials, and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy"?

Well, that’s what Bush and the Israelis have been demanding.

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.