Has the ‘Amber Light’ Turned Green?

Just last month, Russia Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko had this to say –

“We do not see any sort of ‘fire’ that requires us to toss everything aside and meet to discuss Iran’s nuclear program in the middle of a packed week at the United Nations General Assembly.

"On the contrary, there are more urgent questions – for example, the situation in Afghanistan and along the Afghan-Pakistan border – but our Western partners for some reason aren’t rushing to discuss these.”

What was the reaction of the paranoids, here and abroad, who irrationally regard Iran’s nuclear programs – subject for more than thirty years to a Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, from which the IAEA reported as recently as last month that there is "no indication" that any Safeguarded materials have ever been "diverted" from peaceful purposes – to be an "existential threat" to Israel?

Well, Gabriela Shalev, Israel’s UN Ambassador had this to say –

“Time here is of the essence. We know that Iran is developing its nuclear capabilities, we know that Iran is going to share this capacity with others and this presents an immediate threat to Israel, from Hamas in the south [and from] Hizbullah in the north.”

When asked about efforts to punish Iran (for refusing to give up IAEA Safeguarded programs to which, as a signatory to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Iran is affirmed to have an "inalienable" right) outside the UN framework, she answered, “We should do whatever we can.”

Well, that was last month.

Since then – thanks to the repeal (beginning under President Clinton) of important regulatory constraints on Wall Street financial institutions and their instruments of mass destruction by The Best Congress Money Can Buy – the vultures have come home to roost, all over the world.

Many trillions of dollars of "wealth" have simply disappeared, threatening the international financial system, itself, to say nothing of the dollar as its reserve currency.

In particular, in recent weeks the Russian stock market has lost half its value and is down more than 75% from its high in May.

Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin warned last month that Russia’s 2009 federal budget would have a deficit if the country’s main export blend, Urals crude, dropped below $70.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is holding an extraordinary meeting next month to discuss the impact of the deepening global recession on OPEC revenues. Some analysts predict that the group will agree to reduce output to prevent the price of oil from dropping further.

Of course, there is one sure way to reduce OPEC output and prevent the price from dropping further: let the Likudnik paranoids "Bomb-Bomb Iran."

According to "a senior Pentagon official," President George W. Bush gave the Israeli government in July the "amber light" for future military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

"Amber means get on with your preparations, stand by for immediate attack and tell us when you’re ready."

Might the "amber light" turn green? Yes, "if negotiations with Tehran break down."

What negotiations? And what constitutes their "breaking down"?

Well, apparently Bush was referring to his attempts to get the Russians and Chinese to agree to increasingly punitive sanctions being imposed by the UN Security Council for Iran’s refusing to suspend indefinitely its IAEA Safeguarded programs.

If so, then certainly in the opinion of the Likudniks, Russia’s refusal last month to even consider the imposition of such sanctions constitutes "negotiations breaking down."

Furthermore, the reception the Iranian delegation got at that UN General Assembly meeting – to put it mildly – dismayed the Israeli Ambassador.

“It was very upsetting, the whole atmosphere – yesterday they [the Iranians] were hugged and applauded."

And why not? Just a few days before, IAEA Director-General ElBaradei had issued his most recent report on Iran’s Safeguarded programs and facilities, in which

"The Agency has been able to continue to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran. Iran has provided the Agency with access to declared nuclear material and has provided the required nuclear material accounting reports in connection with declared nuclear material and activities."

But what about ElBaradei’s six "concerns"?

Understand that these concerns did not relate to those activities and information required to be subject to Iran’s Safeguards Agreement. They didn’t even relate to those activities and information that would have been required if the Iranian Parliament had ever ratified an Additional Protocol to Iran’s Safeguards Agreement.

No, ElBaradei’s concerns arose from the illegal (under the IAEA Statute) commission by the IAEA Board of Governors for him to develop a "coherent picture" of Iran’s entire nuclear program, requiring Iran to submit to certain "transparency" measures going far, far beyond anything legally required of Iran. To that end, the UN Security Council illegally (under the UN Charter) imposed sanctions upon Iran, requiring the suspension of all Iranian nuclear programs – specifically those ongoing IAEA Safeguarded activities involving uranium enrichment – pending ElBaradei’s report that his concerns had been satisfied.

In August of 2007, with the objective of satisfying those six concerns, Iran concluded a "Work Plan" (IAEA INFCIRC/711) with ElBaradei.

Paragraph 5 of Chapter IV of that Work Plan states;

"The Agency and Iran agreed that, after the implementation of the above Work Plan and the agreed modalities for resolving the outstanding issues, the implementation of safeguards in Iran will be conducted in a routine manner."

In his report of February 2008, ElBaradei explicitly stated that all six outstanding issues had been resolved.

But what about the "smoking laptop" and the so-called "alleged studies"?

Well, Chapter III of the Work Plan states;

"As a sign of good will and cooperation with the Agency, upon receiving all related documents, Iran will review and inform the Agency of its assessment."

Well, none of the actual smoking laptop "documents" have ever been delivered to Iran by the IAEA, perhaps because the IAEA doesn’t have them.

However, the Iranians say they have "carefully examined" all the Power Point presentations provided them, which they believe were prepared by the U.S. for the IAEA.

Whereupon, on 28 September 2008 the Iranians sent a Note Verbale to the IAEA Secretariat to be distributed to all members of the IAEA General Conference which concludes;

"Taking into account [the fact] that there is no valid and documentary evidence purporting to show any linkage between such fabricated allegations and Iran, and no use of any nuclear material in connection to the alleged studies…and the fact that the Director General has already indicated in his report in June and September 2008 that the Agency has no information on the actual design or manufacture by Iran of nuclear components of a nuclear weapon, or of certain other key components – such as initiators – or on related physics studies, this subject [of the "alleged studies"] must be closed."

So, has the light turned green for 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.