An Act of War

Just as you thought the chances of the United States going to war with Iran were diminishing (largely because our own Iraqi sock-puppet regime has rejected U.S. accusations that Iran is directly responsible for American soldiers being killed in Iraq and because Director-General ElBaradei continues to report to the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency that he can find "no indication" that Iran now has or ever did have a nuclear weapons program) Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, goes to Israel, presumably to help celebrate the 60th anniversary of al-Nakba, but also to discuss "the threat posed by Iran" to Israel.

Do you copy? Iran does not pose a threat to us or our troops in Iraq, but – in Pelosi’s view – may somehow pose a threat to Israel?

True, a "breakthrough deal" – reached with the help of Arab mediators – had just been reached in Lebanon between the U.S.-backed government and the Iranian and Syrian-backed Hezbollah, ending the country’s 18-month political stalemate, giving Hezbollah something of a victory and "veto" power over future government actions.

And, presumably, that is not good news to the Israelis who had already effectively lost the quasi-war fought two years ago with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

But, never mind that.

According to Haaretz, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Pelosi that the international community "needed to take more drastic steps to stop Iran’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons."

What efforts to obtain nuclear weapons?

What sections of ElBaradei’s (apparently null) reports to the IAEA Board and to the Security Council – the results of years of exhaustive go-almost-anywhere (including some military installations) interview-almost-anyone (including some military officials) inspections – do the Likudniks not understand?

What would it take to convince the paranoids in Israel and elsewhere that Iran’s nuclear programs – which have voluntarily been made more transparent to IAEA inspections than any other country’s – could never produce a nuclear weapon, so long as those programs are subject to IAEA Safeguards.


Well, according to Haaretz, Prime Minister Olmert "suggested" that, among other more drastic steps, the US impose a "naval blockade," using U.S. warships, "to limit the movement of Iranian merchant vessels."

Now, Iran is already subject to a third "round" of sanctions, preventing the import into or export from Iran, of goods, many of them commercial items, totally unrelated to Iran’s Safeguarded nuclear programs, imposed by the Security Council "in order to strengthen a global response to this serious challenge and threat to international security."

What constitutes a serious challenge and a threat to international security? Why, Iran’s IAEA Safeguarded programs, of course.

The threat to international security of Iran’s Safeguarded programs in which ElBaradei has repeatedly told the Security Council he can find "no indication" that any materials proscribed by the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons have ever been diverted to a military purpose.

The threat to international security of Iran’s Safeguarded uranium-enrichment program the Iranians were forced to undertake, themselves – mining their own ore, converting it to "yellowcake," converting the "yellowcake" to uranium-hexafluoride, developing their own supersonic gas-centrifuge uranium-enrichment devices – all because President Clinton strong-armed Boris Yeltsin into canceling the turn-key Safeguarded uranium-enrichment plant the Russians had agreed to provide Iran, and strong-armed the Chinese into canceling the turn-key Safeguarded uranium-conversion plant they had agreed to provide Iran.

Don’t all members of the UN Security Council know all this?

Of course, they do.

In his report last November to the IAEA Board and to the Security Council, ElBaradei included the results of his search through Iran’s records, going back decades, said results not in conflict with the justifications the Iranians supplied for the secretive manner in which they were forced – by "some" Members of the Security Council – to pursue the civilian nuclear power fuel-cycle, which both the IAEA Statute and the NPT assure them is their "inalienable right."

In his most recent report ElBaradei was “able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran.”

Even for those nuclear “weaponization” studies – alleged to have been done for Iran’s military, stored on a laptop computer, allegedly stolen from an Iranian engineer, obtained by Israeli intelligence, given by our intelligence community to the IAEA – which the IAEA confronted the Iranians with earlier this year, ElBaradei noted that “the Agency has not detected the use of nuclear material in connection with the alleged studies, nor does it have credible information in this regard.”

Okay. That should do it. You can study all you want, but you can’t make a nuke unless you’ve got a dozen pounds of weapons-grade plutonium or about ten times that much weapons-grade enriched-uranium. The IAEA bottom line is that the Iranians have not produced, as yet, any of either, nor do they have the capability, as yet, of producing any of either.

The UN’s own agency has verified, time and again, that Iranian nuclear programs are entirely "peaceful."

So, ordinarily it would be all right for Presidential candidates, such as Barack Obama, to visit synagogues in this country and declare, as he did last month in Philadelphia and again this week in Florida;

"As president, I will do everything that I can to help (Israel) protect itself … We will make sure that it can defend itself from any attack, whether it comes from as close as Gaza or as far as Tehran.”

But, as Prime Minister Olmert must know, and Speaker Pelosi should have known, a "naval blockade" – which goes beyond the imposition of "sanctions" – involves the interdiction and/or seizure of all civil "merchant vessels" and their cargoes on the high seas. It’s an act of war!

Hence, upon Pelosi’s return to Washington – perhaps after frantic consultation with State Department officials – Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elsharri denied "there was ever any mention of a US naval blockade of Iranian ports."

Well, someone’s lying.

So what the candidates for our presidency must make clear to Americans – most of whom are not paranoid – is actually what they mean when they say will "defend Israel."

Will our next president be willing to blockade Iran, to starve Iranian women and children, to effectively launch a war against Iran because the Likudnik paranoids, here and abroad, consider Iran’s Safeguarded nuclear programs a "threat" to Israel?

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.