Going Far, Far Beyond the NPT

Last week, the Secretariat of the International Atomic Energy Agency formally protested “outrageous and dishonest” accusations made by members of the Cheney Cabal about Iran’s Safeguarded nuclear programs.

Interestingly, the “radioactive fallout” from a previous IAEA refutation – of the “Niger-Iraq yellowcake” documents – is still causing trouble for the Cabal and its sycophants.

Last year our intelligence community produced – at the request of Congress – a National Intelligence Estimate which, inter allia, addressed Iran’s nuclear programs. Although that 2005 NIE was highly classified, Dafna Linzer reported that

“A major U.S. intelligence review has projected that Iran is about a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling the previous estimate of five years, according to government sources with firsthand knowledge of the new analysis.”

Then, two weeks ago, the House Select Committee on Intelligence made public the staff report [.pdf] – essentially criticizing the 2005 NIE and the American intelligence community that produced it – that the IAEA Secretariat has now formally protested [.pdf] as being “outrageous and dishonest.”

According to the protested Intelligence Committee report “America’s intelligence agencies” have – apparently secretly – “assessed” that “Iran has conducted a clandestine uranium enrichment program for nearly two decades in violation of its IAEA safeguards agreement” and that “despite its claims to the contrary, Iran is seeking nuclear weapons.”

In his cover letter, Sub-Committee Chairman Rodgers assured us that the report reflected “Committee staff” reviews of “classified and unclassified material” and consultations “with experts both in the United States and abroad.”

However, there is no support for either of these accusations in IAEA reports on Iran.

In all his reports, the IAEA Director-General provides – as he is charged with doing – an update on the implementation of the Iranian NPT safeguards agreement, which as a no-nuke signatory to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Iran undertook to comply with “for the exclusive purpose” of “preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

“Procedures for the safeguards required by this article shall be followed with respect to source or special fissionable material whether it is being produced, processed or used in any principal nuclear facility or is outside any such facility.”

And, insofar as Iran’s basic Safeguards Agreement is concerned, Iran was under no obligation to tell the IAEA about activity – such as buying or trying to produce gas-centrifuges – until six months before those activities actually involved the chemical or physical transformation of certain proscribed materials.

However, since November, 2003, Director-General ElBaradei has also been reporting on his activities with respect to several other related – but not NPT associated – sets of investigations.

Not NPT associated!

First, there is the Additional Protocol to the Iran’s NPT-IAEA Safeguards Agreement, which Iran voluntarily signed in December, 2003, and immediately began to adhere to in advance of its ratification.

“The essence of the additional protocol is to reshape the IAEA’s safeguards regime from a quantitative system focused on accounting for known quantities of materials and monitoring declared activities to a qualitative system gathering a comprehensive picture of a state’s nuclear and nuclear-related activities, including nuclear-related imports and exports. “

Then, there are additional “confidence-building measures” that go beyond even the Additional Protocol, voluntarily taken by Iran for the duration of the 2004 Paris Accord negotiations with the Gang of Three [Brits, French, Germans], ostensibly acting on behalf of the European Union.

Although the IAEA was asked under the Paris Accord to verify Iranian compliance with some of these measures – such as the voluntary suspension of uranium-enrichment activities – the Paris Accord negotiations themselves were none of the IAEA’s business.

Unfortunately, Bonkers Bolton strong-armed the IAEA Board into making the “failed” Paris Accord negotiations the Board’s business. In an IAEA resolution [.pdf] of 4 February, 2006, the Board not only “required” Iran to resume its “confidence-building measures” but demanded that Iran’s Parliament immediately ratify the Additional Protocol.

Then, a few months later, Bolton finally succeeded in making the failed Paris Accord negotiations and the “failure” of the Iranian Parliament to ratify the Additional Protocol – neither of which were any of the IAEA Board’s business – the UN Security Council’s business.

Believe it or not, smack dab in the middle of Israel’s war of aggression against Lebanon, Bonkers Bolton got the Security Council to delay passage of a cease-fire resolution in order to pass UNSC Resolution 1696, which among other odious things, demanded that Iran resume – as the IAEA Board had demanded – the confidence-building measures voluntarily adopted by Iran for the duration of the Paris Accord negotiations!

But the bottom line is that in none of the IAEA reports on (a) Iran’s Safeguards Agreement, (b) its voluntary adherence to the Additional Protocol and (c) its voluntary adherence to the “confidence-building” measures of the Paris Accord is there any suggestion that Iran now has – or ever has had – a nuclear weapons program.


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.