In a joint press conference held this week with the head of the European Commission, Mohamed ElBaradei, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that the talks with Iran that began on April 21 to "clarify" certain "alleged studies of weaponization" have resulted in "good progress."
What "alleged studies" is ElBaradei talking about?
Well, scroll back to the summer of 2005.
Since February, 2003, ElBaradei and his IAEA inspectors had been conducting intrusive investigations into Irans Safeguarded nuclear programs.
And since December, 2003, Iran had been voluntarily adhering to an (as yet) unratified Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement.
Iran had searched for and provided ElBaradei documentation of its past procurement activities for nuclear programs, going back two decades documentation that Iran had been under no obligation to provide the IAEA at the time, much less obligated to preserve for later inspection.
In that summer of 2005, ElBaradei again reported that he had found no indication that (a) there were any undeclared “source or special nuclear materials” in Iran nor that (b) “source or special nuclear materials” were being or had ever been “used in furtherance of a military purpose.” Hence, Iran was in compliance with the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
However, ElBaradei, personally, still had some “concerns” that Iran had been unwilling to address.
So, in mid-July, our intelligence officials rushed to Vienna to brief ElBaradei and senior staff on some of the sensitive “intelligence” they had gleaned from a laptop computer, allegedly stolen from a deceased Iranian engineer and obtained by our intelligence agencies from another intelligence agency sometime in 2004.
ElBaradei and staff were reportedly "unimpressed" with the documents contained on the "smoking laptop," most of which were about "studies" involving missiles and high-explosives, which were unrelated to ElBaradeis mission and, hence, unrelated to his "concerns."
Nevertheless, Bonkers Bolton, the Likudniks and other neo-crazies in and out of government kept up the pressure on the IAEA Board of Governors and upon the UN Security Council, with the result that both passed resolutions demanding that Iran explain any and everything to ElBaradeis satisfaction, including all the alleged "studies."
Well, on 25 February, 2008, Olli Heinonen, IAEA Deputy Director-General for Safeguards, finally got around to showing the Iranian Ambassador to the IAEA (as well as other IAEA Ambassadors assembled) for the first time exactly what it was the Iranians were being required to explain!
According to nuclear fuel-cycle student David Albright, who had been shown the smoking laptop documents years before, the Iranians were being asked to explain four projects which were alleged to have been pursued as part of a secret military program directed an Iranian General named Mohsen Fakrizadeh.
Only one of the alleged four projects would clearly have been within the IAEAs purview; the activities of a small Iranian private sector firm, Kimeya Madon, who, beginning in the spring of 2001 and ending in May 2003, allegedly developed a set of technical drawings for a small "bench scale" plant for converting Uranium Oxide "yellowcake" to Uranium Tetrafluoride "green salt."
The Iranians deny that Kimeya Madon had been involved in a uranium-conversion design project. But even if it was, Iran would not have been required under its existing Safeguards Agreement to have informed the IAEA about it until six months before the plant actually began operations.
Hence, as far as ElBaradei is concerned, the real issue is whether the Iranians are truth-tellers or inveterate liars liars who lie when there is no reason to lie.
ElBaradei already knows that virtually all intelligence provided the IAEA by our "intelligence community" has been to put it politely wrong.
At Deputy Heinonens February 2008 briefing, the Iranians were reportedly excitedly photographing everything being presented with camera phones. And a few weeks later the Iranians sent a Note Verbale to ElBaradei, incorporating a letter sent the day before to UN Secretary General regarding the Security Councils Resolution 1803 of March 3, 2008.
UNSCR 1803 begins with the Security Council
"Reaffirming its commitment to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the need for all States Party to that Treaty to comply fully with all their obligations, and recalling the right of States Party, in conformity with Articles I and II of that Treaty, to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination."
The Security Council then proceeds to discriminate, to deny Iran the "inalienable rights" it has just "reaffirmed."
So, Irans letter to Secretary General begins by noting correctly that Iran "has consistently complied with its obligations" under the NPT and the IAEA Statute.
It then notes the "irrational opposition" of the United States and the Brits-Germans-French to Irans exercising its "inalienable rights" as affirmed in the NPT and IAEA Statute, and charges that their "instrumental manipulation" of the IAEA Board and Security Council have resulted in international law and the UN Charter being "seriously violated."
Iran goes on to charge that the U.S.-Brits-Germans-French have provided "erroneous information" with the result that the IAEA has been prevented from fulfilling "its real tasks on important issues such as the prevention of actual [nuke] proliferation, disarmament and developing a mechanism to effectively verify the nuclear activities of the non-parties to the NPT, particularly the Zionist regime that is continuing to develop nuclear weapons in the [Mid-East] region."
Iran then reminds the Secretary General of the substantive and procedural legal requirements set out in the IAEA Safeguards Agreements, the IAEA Statute and the UN Charter for involving the Security Council in issues related to Irans Safeguarded nuclear programs.
In particular, Iran correctly notes that "there has never been any reference in the Agencys reports to any non-compliance by Iran or and diversion in its peaceful nuclear activities. On the contrary, "the IAEA Director-General has repeatedly stressed that there has been no diversion of the declared nuclear materials." And the IAEA Statute requires the IAEA Board to "find" that the Director-General has not been able to verify there has been no diversion before referring the matter to the Security Council.
Hence, Iran finds it "necessary to stress that the engagement of the Security Council in this issue and also the resolutions adopted in this regard have been unlawful."
In conclusion, Iran notes that "the maintenance and strengthening of international peace and security requires, as a first step, our endeavor to ensure a safer world through developing equitable international rules, and through their evenhanded implementation."
And so say all of us.