IAEA Board Goes Bonkers

Members of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, evidently representing those nations who want to finish the job Bonkers Bolton began – gutting the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons – have, according to the New York Times, emerged victorious.

According to the IAEA Statute, the agency’s primary objective is to "accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health, and prosperity throughout the world."

The current Director-General, Mohamed ElBaradei, has just made his report to the IAEA Board at the beginning of their quarterly meeting.

At the top of his list were Technical Cooperation Programme activities with participating IAEA member states in the safe application of nuclear energy to human health as well as to food and agricultural production.

Second, came his assessment that the IAEA should expect "continued high demand for its assistance" from member states "exploring the nuclear power option," despite the "global financial crisis."

Hence, ElBaradei emphasized the need to have a "robust, well-funded and independent" IAEA safeguards and physical security program.

ElBaradei went on to lament what he considers to be inadequate funding, especially with respect to the IAEA’s ability to respond effectively to "pressing human needs in developing countries."

Next, ElBaradei put in a plug for a Russian-proposed internationally-controlled reactor-grade enriched-uranium fuel bank "to provide assurance of supply" to IAEA safeguarded facilities in the event of a politically-motivated disruption of existing or anticipated supply contracts.

Finally, ElBaradei addressed some "lingering difficulties" he faced in complying with the requirements (illegally) placed on him – at the instigation of Bonkers Bolton – by the IAEA Board and, in turn, by the Security Council, involving North Korea, Iran and Syria.

At this point, it’s worth quoting at some length from the highly relevant Statement presented to the IAEA Board on or about that same day by the Vienna Chapter of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The NAM statement begins by reiterating these "principled positions."


  1. NAM reaffirms the basic and inalienable right of all states to develop research, production and use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes, without any discrimination and in conformity with their respective legal obligations. Therefore, nothing should be interpreted in a way as inhibiting or restricting the right of states to develop atomic energy for peaceful purposes. States’ choices and decisions, including those of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear technology and its fuel cycle policies must be respected.

  2. NAM recognizes the IAEA as the sole competent authority for verification of the respective safeguards obligations of Member States and stressed that there should be no undue pressure or interference in the Agency’s activities, especially its verification process, which would jeopardize the efficiency and credibility of the Agency.

  3. NAM emphasizes the fundamental distinction between the legal obligations of states to their respective safeguards agreements and any confidence building measures voluntarily undertaken to resolve difficult issues, and believed that such voluntary undertakings are not legal safeguards obligations.

  4. NAM considers the establishment of a nuclear- weapons-free-zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East as a positive step towards attaining the objective of global nuclear disarmament and reiterates its support for the establishment of such a zone in accordance with relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.

  5. NAM reaffirms the inviolability of peaceful nuclear activities and that any attack or threat of attack against peaceful nuclear facilities – operational or under construction – poses a great danger to human beings and the environment, and constitutes a grave violation of international law, principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations and regulations of the IAEA. NAM recognizes the need for a comprehensive multilaterally negotiated instrument prohibiting attacks, or threat of attacks on nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

  6. NAM strongly believes that all safeguards and verification issues, including those of Iran, should be resolved within the IAEA framework, and be based on technical and legal grounds. NAM further emphasizes that the Agency should continue its work to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue within its mandate under the Statute of the IAEA.

  7. NAM stresses that diplomacy and dialogue through peaceful means must continue to find a comprehensive and long term solution to the Iranian nuclear issue. NAM expresses their conviction that the only way to resolve the issue is to pursue substantive negotiations without any preconditions among all relevant parties.

The NAM-statement then "takes note" that Director-General ElBaradei, in his latest report on the implementation of Iran’s NPT-related Safeguards Agreement, has verified that no NPT-proscribed materials have ever been diverted to a military purpose.

But, what about Iran’s compliance (or lack thereof) with UN Security Council resolutions 1737, 1747, 1803, and 1835?

Well, re-read the NAM "principled positions," focusing particularly on the second.

NAM clearly believes, as a matter of principle, the IAEA Board should never have required – in violation of the IAEA Statute – Iran (or any other NAM-member) to give up its "inalienable rights" to the fullest possible enjoyment of the benefits of atomic energy.

Nor should the IAEA Board have attempted – in violation of the IAEA Statue and the UN Charter – to interfere in the internal and foreign policy affairs of Iran or any other NAM-member.

Why should the IAEA Board pay any attention to the NAM statement?

Well, NAM-members comprise nearly 2/3 of UN membership and IAEA membership, and comprise more than half the world’s population.

However, they are not proportionately represented on the 35-member IAEA Board of Governors

So, that Board has reportedly selected – by just over the required 2/3 majority – Yukiya Amano, a Japanese diplomat, who was actually Chairman of the IAEA Board in 2005-2006, to succeed ElBaradei as IAEA Director-General.

According to David Kay, a former mid-level munchkin in the IAEA Secretariat, Yukiya Amano is "a nonproliferation and disarmament guy… He has been around in trying to keep the [UN Security Council mandated] inspections in Iran going, and I expect him to continue very much in that line."

According to Amano’s IAEA biography, he "has been involved in the negotiation of major international instruments such as the NPT extension, the Comprehensive Test BanTreaty [CTBT], the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention [BTWC] verification protocol, the amendment of the Convention on Prohibitions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons [CCW] and the International Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missiles [ICOC]."

Obviously, that extensive experience will enable Director-General Amano to accomplish his principle objective; namely to "accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health, and prosperity throughout the world."


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.