Building Confidence

Pursuant to a Safeguards Agreement [.pdf] concluded in 1974 with the International Atomic Energy Agency – as required by the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons – Iran has been allowing IAEA inspectors to verify that no “source or special nuclear materials” are being used in furtherance of a nuclear weapons program.

Then, in 2003, on the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom – allegedly to prevent Saddam Hussein from producing what the IAEA had just certified Saddam had no capability to produce – Iran signed an Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement and immediately began to cooperate with the IAEA as if it had been ratified and was in force.

Furthermore, as a “confidence building measure,” Iran voluntarily declared and then voluntarily suspended certain activities that their Safeguards Agreement would not have even required them to yet declare.

But last year Bonkers Bolton and the Mad Cow got the IAEA Board to demand that in order to “build confidence,” Iran would have to suspend indefinitely virtually all nuclear activities.

Or Else!!

Or else, what?

Well, the IAEA Board would report any resumption of Iran’s voluntarily suspended activities to the UN Security Council to be a “threat to the peace,” as defined in Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

The Iranian Parliament promptly passed a law, requiring the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency to cease all voluntary cooperation with the IAEA – above and beyond that required by their basic Safeguards Agreement – in the event the IAEA did refer the “Iranian dossier” to the Security Council.

The IAEA Board went ahead, anyway, “reporting” [.pdf] the Iranian dossier to the Security Council early this year. Hence, on February 6, 2006, the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency ceased all cooperation with the IAEA above and beyond that required by their basic Safeguards Agreement.

However, after three weeks of acrimonious debate, the UNSC didn’t make a finding under Chapter VII, didn’t even pass a resolution. Instead, the UNSC issued a non-binding Presidential Statement, essentially “calling upon” the parties to settle their differences amongst themselves.

However, the UNSC called upon Iran “to take the steps required by the IAEA Board of Governors” which – according to the Board – “are essential to build confidence in the exclusively peaceful purpose of its nuclear programme.”

Worse, the UNSC went on to underline “the particular importance” to the IAEA Board “of re-establishing full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development.”

In other words, the UNSC “called” upon Iran to try to convince Bonkers Bolton and the Mad Cow that Iran’s nuclear programs were exclusively peaceful even if it meant Iran’s unilaterally giving up forever all its nuclear programs, including nuclear research and development.

It’s hard to believe the Russian and Chinese members of the UNSC realized what they were calling for. If the Iranians gave in to the Board’s outrageous illegitimate demands, that would essentially sound the death knell for the entire NPT nuke proliferation-prevention regime.

The UNSC Presidential Statement concluded by requesting a report from the Director-General on the progress of Iranian compliance with the steps required by the IAEA Board.

Well, ElBaradei has now made that report, and although it is “confidential.” Excerpts from it made by BBC News have been posted on the IAEA website.

You should go read it, carefully, because it doesn’t say what the neocrazies and their media sycophants are saying it says.

According to those excerpts, ElBaradei has essentially made the same report to the Board he has been making for the past three years.

As best he can tell, there are no undeclared proscribed materials in Iran and no indication that any such materials have ever been used in furtherance of any military purpose.

And under Iran’s original NPT-related Safeguards Agreement and under the IAEA Statute that is the limit of ElBaradei’s jurisdiction.

ElBaradei does go on to lament the passage of the good old days, before February 2006, when the Iranians had let him go-anywhere see-anything and interview-anyone he wanted.

“With Iran’s decision to cease implementing the provisions of the Additional Protocol, and to confine Agency verification to the implementation of the Safeguards Agreement, the Agency’s ability to make progress in clarifying these issues, and to confirm the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities, will be further limited.

“The implementation of confidence building measures is no substitute for the full implementation at all times of safeguards obligations.

“The Agency cannot make a judgment about, or reach a conclusion on, future compliance or intentions.”

Now, he tells us.

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.