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November 17, 2007

IAEA Again Verifies Iranian Compliance


by Gordon Prather

Hallelujah! The International Atomic Energy Agency has, once again, verified "the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran." It seems the Iranians continue to provide the IAEA access to all "special nuclear materials" – as proscribed by the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons – and all relevant nuclear material accountancy reports, as well as access to all activities involving said materials.

So, let the dancing in the streets commence!

But wait a minute.

Even though compliance by Iran is the principal and only conclusion of the current IAEA report [.pdf] – entitled Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and relevant provisions of Security Council resolutions 1737 and 1747 in the Islamic Republic of Iran – the neo-crazy media sycophants at the New York Times don't even mention it in their "report" on the IAEA report!

Well, if they don't even mention the IAEA report's principal conclusion – that Iran is compliant with its NPT Safeguards Agreement – what do Elaine Sciolino and William Broad report?

That Iran has not suspended its uranium-enrichment activies, "contrary to the decisions of the Security Council"?

No, no.

Quoth Sciolino-Broad:

"VIENNA, Nov. 15 — A new report says Iran has made new but incomplete disclosures about its past nuclear activities, missing a key deadline under an agreement with the IAEA."

Incomplete "disclosures"?

Missed a "key deadline"?

Wrong, wrong.

Nowhere in the IAEA report does Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei even suggest that Iran has missed a "key deadline" previously agreed to by Iran and the IAEA. Furthermore, far from complaining about "incomplete disclosures," ElBaradei reported that Iran has provided "sufficient access" to individuals, and has "responded in a timely manner" to questions, and provided "clarifications and amplifications" on issues raised in the context of the "work plan."

ElBaradei even reports – not unfavorably – the Iranian-supplied justification for the secretive manner in which they have pursued the civilian nuclear power fuel-cycle which both the IAEA Statute and the NPT assure them is their inalienable right.

"According to Iran, in its early years, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) concluded a number of contracts with entities from France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States of America to enable it to acquire nuclear power and a wide range of related nuclear fuel cycle services, but after the 1979 revolution, these contracts with a total value of around $10 billion were not fulfilled.

"Iran noted that one of the contracts, signed in 1976, was for the development of a pilot plant for laser enrichment.

"Senior Iranian officials said that, in the mid-1980s, Iran started working with many countries to revitalize its nuclear programme to meet the State's growing energy needs. Taking advantage of investments already made, Iran said it focused its efforts initially on the completion of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, working with entities from, inter alia, Argentina, France, Germany and Spain, but without success.

"At that time, Iran also initiated efforts to acquire research reactors from Argentina, China, India and the former Soviet Union, but also without success.

"Parallel to the activities related to nuclear power plants, Iran started to build supporting infrastructure by establishing nuclear technology centres in Esfahan and Karaj.

"However, apart from uranium conversion technology acquired from an entity in China, Iran was not able to acquire other nuclear fuel cycle facilities or technology from abroad.

"As a result, according to Iran, a decision was made in the mid-1980s to acquire uranium enrichment technology on the black market."

Now, bear in mind that the IAEA's primary mission is to facilitate the fullest possible transfer – for peaceful purposes – of nuclear materials and technology from the "have" states to the "have-not" states. True, the IAEA is required to ensure – "insofar as it is able" – that the technology and materials so transferred are not diverted to a military purpose. But, Bonkers Bolton to the contrary, that's not IAEA's primary mission.

Furthermore, the "have" states are obligated under the IAEA Statute and under the NPT to facilitate that transfer – for peaceful purposes.

Hence, that history of Iran's attempts to obtain their "inalienable" rights under the IAEA Statute and NPT – if verified by the IAEA – constitutes an indictment of the IAEA's long-term abdication of its primary mission. To say nothing of an indictment of the perverse stewardship of "have" states, such as the United States.

So, how's ElBaradei's verification of Iran's story going?

"To assess the detailed information provided by Iran, the Agency held discussions with senior current and former Iranian officials.

"The Agency also examined supporting documentation, including Iranian legislation, contracts with foreign companies, agreements with other States and nuclear site surveys.

"Bearing in mind the long history and complexity of the program and the dual nature of enrichment technology, the Agency is not in a position, based on the information currently available to it, to draw conclusions about the original underlying nature of parts of the program.

"Further light may be shed on this question when other aspects of the work plan have been addressed and when the Agency has been able to verify the completeness of Iran's declarations."

Okay, Sciolino-Broad didn't even mention the principal conclusion of ElBaradei's report, nor did they appear to understand the potential dynamite of ElBaradei's ongoing assessment of the truth of Iran's allegations. So, what did Sciolino-Broad focus on.

"The agency's report also confirmed for the first time that Iran has now crossed the major milestone of putting 3,000 centrifuges into operation, a tenfold increase from just a year ago. In theory, that means that Iran could produce enough uranium to make a nuclear weapon within a year to 18 months."

In whose theory?

What neo-crazy crackpot told gullible [or complicit?] New York Times' reporters that gas centrifuges could produce uranium at all, much less produce weapons-grade almost pure Uranium-235?

Uranium-enrichment plants don't "produce" uranium, they "cast out" the Uranium-238 istopes from the uranium-hexafluoride fed them.

What ElBaradei "verified" was that Iran had finished installing eighteen 164-machine cascades and that uranium-hexafluoride had been fed into all 18 cascades. ElBaradei also reported that the "feed rate" as well as the enrichment level – both of which the IAEA "audits" – have remained low.

But Sciolino-Broad did get one thing right. ElBaradei did complain that Iran's "cooperation has been reactive, rather than proactive."

Whatever that means.


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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.

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