Is Iran Building a Nuke?

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Memo To: Mssrs.
Bush, Kerry & Nader
Jude Wanniski
Re: The
neo-cons are at it again

You are
undoubtedly being briefed by your foreign-policy advisors on the
issue of Iran's u201Cnuclear program.u201D You had best be careful on
the sources because the newspapers you are reading all seem to
think Iran has a u201Cnuclear weapons programu201D when there is actually
no evidence that it has any more than a u201Cnuclear programu201D to produce
electric power in nuclear power plants. Remember the neo-cons
in the government were successful in getting the major media to
conclude that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
They have been doing the same through one of their agents, John
Bolton in the State Department, who spreads disinformation about
what's going on in North Korea as well as Iran. The neo-con goal
is to thoroughly discredit the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA), as it tried to do in the months leading up to their war
against Iraq last year.

Why? Because
the IAEA can prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons through
its ability to spot check countries suspected of having a u201Cweapons
program.u201D If the IAEA can accomplish that goal, there is no need
for more pre-emptive wars to disarm u201Crogue statesu201D of nukes, or
to blow up their nuclear power plants as Israel did in Iraq in
1980, with neo-con assistance. Your advisors have surely told
you there is now discussion in Israel of a similar pre-emptive
strike against an Iranian nuclear power plant.

Once again,
to get a clear picture on Iran, I turned to Dr. Gordon Prather,
who was the army's chief scientist in the Reagan years, a now-retired
nuclear physicist. Dr. Prather has followed the nuclear issue
for decades, having been a weapons designer at Sandia and Lawrence
Livermore Labs when the U.S. was still designing nukes. Dr. Prather
does not believe North Korea has nukes and points out that North
Korea has never said that it does. In this note I got from him
this morning, he says the same about Iran.

his comments, I append a link to the June 13 New York Times
Magazine for an article by James Traub, u201CThe Netherworld of
Nonproliferation,u201D which at least makes a good effort at explaining
the issues of this most important topic.

From Dr.

As best
I can tell, Iran denies that it has ever sought to have nukes.
Whether you believe that or not is somewhat beside the point.
The point is that they are Non-Proliferation Treaty signatories
and they are demanding that other NPT signatories abide by the
Treaty. When the G-8 vows to not provide for a year any nuclear-related
technology or equipment to anyone, the US, UK, Germany, France
and Russia are in material violation of the NPT. Iran – as best
the IAEA can tell – is not in violation of the NPT, but We ARE.

Now you
may argue that we ought not be a party to such a treaty. But it’s
OUR Treaty. We got the Shah to sign it and then we began building
him a nuclear power plant – the one the Russians are now finishing
for the Mullahs.

When the
Iranians say they want to be a member of the "nuclear club"
they say they don’t mean nukes. They mean they want to be a member
of the Nuclear Suppliers Group [NSG]. They want to enrich their
own uranium and sell it, just like they sell their oil and natural
gas. At present, Bolton et al. are attempting to equate uranium
enrichment with having nukes. Iran objects to that, and properly
so, in my opinion. Bolton wants to tear up the NPT and go it alone.
Bolton et al. have an agenda that requires the destruction of
the IAEA-NPT-NSG Safeguards and Physical Security regime.

Iran as
an NPT signatory has certain “inalienable rights,” guaranteed
to them by the Treaty. Bolton is attempting to make a mockery
of Iran’s rights under the NPT and the whole world is watching.
China is not a member of the G-8 [nor the NSG] but is an NPT signatory.
My guess is that if the G-8 refuses to honor its NPT commitments
to Iran, China will honor its. After all, China’s use of oil and
natural gas is rapidly increasing and Iran is the second- or third-ranked
producer of both.

In answer
to your other question, no NPT signatory has yet successfully
gamed the IAEA-NPT-NSG regime to develop nukes. Not even Iraq.
G.Prather doubts that Iraq could have – even in the pre-Additional
Protocol era – and certainly could not, now.

Here are
the introductory paragraphs of the Traub article and the
link to it if you wish to read it in its entirety
, which I
recommend you do:

June 13,
Netherworld of Nonproliferation
James Traub

Dwight D. Eisenhower saw nothing even remotely paradoxical about
the expression ”Atoms for Peace” when he delivered a speech
of that name to the United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 8,
1953. Eisenhower had come to disclose ”a new conception”: that
”if the fearful trend of atomic military buildup can be reversed,
this greatest of destructive forces can be developed into a great
boon.” Atomic energy could be applied to ”agriculture, medicine
and other peaceful activities” and ”provide abundant electrical
energy in the power-starved areas of the world.” This speech
led directly to the establishment of the International Atomic
Energy Agency, under the aegis of the United Nations, and, 15
years later, to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Both were
founded on a grand bargain: countries that agreed to place their
nuclear programs under a system of international inspection and
forgo the development of nuclear weapons (if they didn’t already
have them) would gain access to the expected atomic bounty.

Today the
premise of that bargain seems almost quaint. Nuclear energy has
never achieved anything like the World of Tomorrow promise it
enjoyed half a century ago; meanwhile, the world feels menaced
by the threat of nuclear weaponry in a way unimaginable in Eisenhower’s
day. Authoritarian and, even worse, potentially unstable states
like Pakistan and North Korea have opted out of the nonproliferation
system in order to develop a bomb; terrorist groups seek weapons
of mass destruction; and a global black market delivers nuclear
fuel, equipment and weapons designs to states that aspire to join
the nuclear club. The United States has already fought what may
be thought of as the first war of counterproliferation; the fact
that Iraq turned out not to possess weapons of mass destruction
shows, among other things, how extraordinarily difficult it is
to gain certain knowledge of an adversary’s nuclear capacities.

the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency
will meet, and the principal item on the agenda will be, as it
has been for the last year, Iran’s nuclear program. The Bush administration
is convinced that Iran is secretly trying to build a bomb. The
Iranian officials I spoke with in a visit to Tehran last month
insist that they are merely trying to improve their ”energy mix”
by adding nuclear power to their abundant oil supplies. But even
in the unlikely event that that is so, an Iran capable of producing
weapons-grade uranium is plainly unacceptable, not only to the
Bush administration but also to its chief allies. What is not
at all clear is how to make the Iranians surrender that capacity.

The nuclear
bargain has become hopelessly one-sided, and the instruments created
to sustain that bargain seem unequal to the task. Bush administration
officials describe the current impasse over Iran as a test that
the international community, and specifically the I.A.E.A., is
failing. Even the I.A.E.A.’s director general, Mohamed ElBaradei,
says that the entire nonproliferation system is in danger of collapse,
though he would include American bellicosity among the forces
that are endangering it. President Bush and ElBaradei, along with
a wide range of scientists and policy makers, have proposed a
variety of designs for a new and much more comprehensive nonproliferation
system. Whether a new network of laws and institutions can plug
the holes faster than terrorists, brokers, freelancing scientists
and rogue states can fill them is an open question. [continue

16, 2004

Wanniski [send him mail]
runs the financial/political advisory service
(If you subscribe,
and check
in the referring website pull-down,
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