Israel Accuses ElBaradei of ‘Bias’

At a meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency last week, Israel’s apparently paranoid delegate reportedly called on Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei "to avoid political bias" and to refrain from "publicly lashing" Israel.

That’s right! Israel’s delegate – not Iran’s – made those charges.

Why apparently paranoid?

Well, scroll back to June of 1981.

The paranoid Israelis had somehow convinced themselves that the nuclear research reactor the French were building for the Iraqis at Tuwaitha – which would be fueled with near-weapons-grade enriched Uranium, already subject to IAEA Safeguards – would be misused by Saddam Hussein to produce nuclear weapons.

So, in complete defiance of the UN Charter, the Israelis launched Operation Opera, their fighter-bomber squadrons violating Jordanian and Saudi Arabian airspace in order to destroy the not-yet-fueled Iraqi nuclear reactor.

The UN Security Council:

"Fully aware of the fact that Iraq has been a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons since it came into force in 1970, that in accordance with that Treaty Iraq has accepted IAEA safeguards on all its nuclear activities, and that the Agency has testified that these safeguards have been satisfactorily applied to date."

They immediately passed Resolution 487, which

  1. Strongly condemns the military attack by Israel in clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international conduct;
  2. Calls upon Israel to refrain in the future from any such acts or threats thereof;
  3. Further considers that the said attack constitutes a serious threat to the entire IAEA safeguards regime which is the foundation of the non-proliferation Treaty;
  4. Fully recognises the inalienable sovereign right of Iraq, and all other States, especially the developing countries, to establish programmes of technological and nuclear development to develop their economy and industry for peaceful purposes in accordance with their present and future needs and consistent with the internationally accepted objectives of preventing nuclear-weapons proliferation;

So, way back in 1981 the Security Council "condemned" Israel for attacking and destroying an IAEA Safeguarded facility, and "called" on Israel to never do anything like that, ever again.

But, on September 6, 2007, in Operation Orchard, the Israelis attacked and destroyed an industrial facility near al-Kibar, Syria, which the Cheney Cabal’s CIA later claimed the Israelis had claimed at the time was a nearly completed, ready to be loaded with fuel, nuclear reactor, allegedly a copy of the Russian-built, North Korean-modified, natural-uranium fueled, graphite-moderated, gas-cooled reactor at Yongbyon.

In fact, in April, 2008, the CIA inexplicably publicly released – even sending a copy to the IAEA – a detailed computer-simulation video which among other things claimed authoritatively that

"Syria was building a gas-cooled graphite-moderated reactor that was nearing operational capability in August 2007. The reactor would have been capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons, was not configured to produce electricity and was ill-suited for research."

ElBaradei promptly announced the IAEA would investigate those CIA claims, but "deplored" the delay in handing over – as the U.S. would have been obligated to do as a signatory to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons – to the IAEA any evidence that Syria might have been in violation of its IAEA Safeguards Agreement.

It is important to note at this point that even in the highly unlikely event those fabulous world-renown ten-foot-tall [.pdf] North Korean Soviet-trained "nuclear engineers" were actually capable of secretly constructing a duplicate of their Soviet-supplied reactor in the Syrian desert, the Syrians would not have been in even minor non-compliance with their Safeguards Agreement unless they had imported and had stored, somewhere, tons of natural-uranium fuel – an NPT-proscribed material, required to be subject to IAEA Safeguards – for use in that alleged reactor, and had failed to declare it to the IAEA.

So, now we come to the most recent ElBaradei report [.pdf] on the implementation of Syria’s IAEA Safeguards Agreement.

ElBaradei begins by noting he had previously reported that "environmental samples" containing significant particles of chemically processed "natural uranium" taken from the soil near the facility destroyed by the Israelis did not match (did not have the same isotopic signature of) any materials already "declared" by the Syrians.

The Syrians told ElBaradei the mysterious "natural uranium" must have been contained in the Israeli munitions used to destroy the facility.

(During World War II, the Germans pioneered the use of natural uranium metal in bunker-busting armor-piercing "‘long-rod-penetrators." Most countries which have physically enriched uranium, now use "depleted" uranium [DU] metal in such munitions. Since Israel is not known to have a large-scale uranium-enrichment capability, and since natural uranium deposits have a somewhat unique isotopic signature, it should be easy to determine whether Israeli natural uranium metal has the isotopic signature of that found at the destroyed site.)

So, ElBaradei had written the Israelis a letter, requesting specifically whether Israeli munitions could have been the source of the "natural uranium" they found at the facility they destroyed.

No answer from the Israelis by report time to ElBaradei’s request.

So, in his latest report ElBaradei again "equally" calls upon Israel to "cooperate" in the IAEA investigation in "establishing the facts and making progress in its [NPT] verification mandate."

That incredibly mild – under the circumstances – language apparently resulted in the paranoid outburst of the Israeli delegate to ElBaradei last week. ElBaradei’s reported retort was an angry accusation that Israel had defied UNSCR 487 by attacking and destroying the Syrian facility, and was continuing to undermine the NPT-IAEA nuke proliferation-prevention regime.

Of course, ElBaradei is not perfect.

Last week ElBaradei also gave a gratuitous interview to BBC in which he, himself, appeared to be undermining the regime.

"My gut feeling is that Iran definitely would like to have the technology … that would enable it to have nuclear weapons if they decided to do so."

Gut feeling?

Back in October, 2005, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that the Peace Prize that year was to be shared, in two equal parts, between the International Atomic Energy Agency, itself, and Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei, "for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way."

Now, according the IAEA Statute, the Prize Committee got it backwards.

"The agency shall seek to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world.

"It shall ensure, so far as it is able, that assistance provided by it or at its request or under its supervision or control is not used in such a way as to further any military purpose."

Hence, the primary objective of the IAEA is to facilitate the safe and secure transfer – and subsequent peaceful application – of "atomic energy."

The IAEA statute establishes a mechanism – the IAEA Safeguards regime – for accomplishing its secondary objective: to ensure that "special fissionable and other materials" are "not used in such a way as to further any military purpose."

The IAEA is not a disarmament agency. Nor is it a nuclear-weapon proliferation-prevention agency.

ElBaradei’s principle objective should have been assisting in the transfer of all available applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes to Iran and Syria.

He has yet to report that he even suspects [.pdf] – much less that he has determined – that any amounts of NPT-proscribed materials have ever been diverted by Iran or Syria to a military purpose.

As for his "gut feeling," maybe he needs a "check-up."

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.