March Madness

Gholamali Haddad-Adel, "speaker" of Iran’s parliament – in Cuba, last week – dismissed the possibility of a U.S. preemptive attack against Iran, finding it "impossible" to believe that the U.S. would want "to repeat the experience of Iraq."

“We hope the United States is not so stupid,” he said.

Presumably, Haddad-Adel meant to say, "We hope that President Bush, his vice president, his secretary of state, and his ambassador to the United Nations are not so stupid."

Now, some or all of the above may be stupid. But their stupidity is not what Haddad-Adel and the rest of the world need to concern themselves with.

It’s their sanity.

As well as the sanity of a majority of congresspersons.

Up until the eve of Bush’s preemptive invasion of oil-rich Iran’s Islamic neighbor – oil-rich Iraq – Bush et al. repeatedly stressed that "we" wanted to settle – through "diplomatic means, if at all possible" – the international crisis triggered by revelations by "Slam Dunk" Tenet that Iraq had reconstructed its nuclear weapons program.

But by March 2003, on-the-ground inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency knew – and so reported to the UN Security Council – that there was no indication whatsoever of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq.

Moreover, polls show that the majority of Americans now know what Tony Blair knew four years ago: Bush was determined to depose Saddam Hussein no matter what the IAEA inspectors found or didn’t find.


Well, most Americans are still puzzled about why.

But most Americans now realize that Bush lied to them – that he didn’t preemptively attack Iraq because he believed Saddam had nukes he planned to give to terrorists.

Of course, congressional leaders knew that all along.

And most congresspersons should have at least suspected when they voted overwhelmingly for the authorization to use military force against Iraq that the presumption was false that

"Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things, continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability, actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist organizations…"

So how to explain the adoption this week – by a vote of 404-4 – of House Concurrent Resolution 341 "condemning the government of Iran for violating its international nuclear nonproliferation obligations and expressing support for efforts to report Iran to the United Nations Security Council."

In particular, what "violations" are they talking about?

"Whereas Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated, ‘[i]t is obvious that if Iran cannot be brought to live up to its international obligations, in fact, the IAEA Statute would indicate that Iran would have to be referred to the UN Security Council’…."

Okay, what "international obligations" is Condi talking about?

Well, it’s not clear. But, Condi does refer to the IAEA Statute. So the House assumes she must be referring to the Safeguards Agreement that Iran concluded with the IAEA way back in 1973.

"Whereas on February 4, 2006, the IAEA Board of Governors reported Iran’s noncompliance with its IAEA safeguards obligations to the Security Council…."

But the House is mistaken. The IAEA Board didn’t report any such thing. In fact, the Board didn’t report anything.

Rather, the IAEA Board requested [.pdf] that Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei report to the Security Council the absolutely outrageous and discriminatory demands that the Board had made on several occasions, calling on Iran to – among other things – implement "transparency measures,"

"which extend beyond the formal requirements of the Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol, and include such access to individuals, documentation relating to procurement, dual-use equipment, certain military-owned workshops, and research and development as the Agency may request in support of its ongoing investigations.”

As of this writing, ElBaradei has made no such report and is unlikely to do so before late March. By then, of course, Bush will probably have already launched a preemptive attack against Iran.

What will be his authority?

"[Congress] calls on all members of the United Nations Security Council … to expeditiously consider and take action in response to any report of Iran’s noncompliance in fulfillment of the mandate of the Security Council to respond to and deal with situations bearing on the maintenance of international peace and security…."

What Security Council mandate is Congress talking about?

Apparently the same one Bush didn’t have when he "took action" against Iraq.

March madness.

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.