Powell Singing Pre-War Tune on Iran?

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When
President Bush needed a rationale for invading Iraq, he told Congress
that Saddam Hussein posed "a continuing threat to the national
security of the United States" by "actively seeking a
nuclear weapons capability, and supporting and harboring terrorist
organizations."

Now,
every member of Congress knew – or should have known –
that Saddam was not actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability.
Just days before Bush invaded Iraq, International Atomic Energy
Agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei had reported to the Security
Council that "after three months of intrusive inspections,
we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the
revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq."

The
IAEA is an agency of the United Nations whose original mission was
to facilitate the international transfer of nuclear technology,
equipment and materials for peaceful purposes.

But
the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons – which
went into force in 1970 – required signatories to make certain
materials, facilities and activities subject to the IAEA-NPT Safeguards
and Physical Security regime. The IAEA regime thereby became responsible
for assuring the Security Council that "declared" materials
are not stolen or diverted to the production of nukes.

Then,
in the aftermath of the first Gulf War, the IAEA discovered that
Iraq had been enriching small quantities of uranium but not declaring
it. Worse, they discovered that Iraq actually had a well-funded,
but chaotic, nuke development program.

Failure
to declare the very small quantities of low-enriched uranium was
a violation of Iraq’s Safeguards agreement. But the Iraqi program
the IAEA uncovered – to produce large quantities of very highly
enriched uranium for use in nukes – was a violation of the
NPT, itself.

Hence,
under the terms of the Gulf War cease-fire resolution, Iraq was
required by the Security Council to cooperate with its agent –
the IAEA Action Team on Iraq – in transparently destroying
or rendering harmless every vestige of the Iraqi nuclear programs.

The
IAEA Board of Governors then asked all NPT signatories to voluntarily
negotiate an Additional Protocol to their existing IAEA Safeguards
agreements. The IAEA’s safeguards regime was to be transformed,
thereby, from a quantitative system – focused on accounting
for declared materials and monitoring of declared activities –
to a qualitative system, capable of forming a comprehensive picture
of a state’s nuclear and nuclear-related activities, including all
nuclear-related imports and exports.

Each
Additional Protocol also provides the IAEA the authority to visit
any of the signatory’s facilities to investigate questions about
– or inconsistencies in – the signatory’s nuclear declarations.

Iran
signed an Additional Protocol to its Safeguards agreement and immediately
invited the IAEA to conduct the exhaustive two-year inspection of
Iran’s nuclear and nuclear-related activities just completed.

Result?

As
was the case with Iraq in the months immediately preceding Bush’s
invasion, the IAEA has found no evidence that NPT-proscribed materials
have been stolen or diverted, nor that Iran is engaged in any NPT
prohibited activity. In particular, there is no evidence that Iran
has been enriching uranium in the facilities it has constructed
or is constructing.

Now,
without question, the U.S.-UK invasion of Iraq, in spite of the
no-nuke report by the IAEA Action Team, dealt a severe blow to the
credibility and effectiveness of the NPT-IAEA regime.

And,
if Bush-Cheney can get the Security Council to impose sanctions
on Iran – or worse – in spite of the no-nuke report by
the IAEA, the NPT-IAEA nuke proliferation-prevention regime may
be dealt a fatal blow.

This
week, retiring Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared to be developing
a rationale for launching – or condoning – a Bush pre-emptive
attack against Iran, just as he did just before Bush launched his
pre-emptive attack against Iraq.

Powell
had "seen some information that would suggest that they [Iranians]
have been actively working on delivery systems."

"I’m
not talking about uranium or fissile material or the warhead,"
Powell said. " I’m talking about what one does with a warhead."

Powell
suggests Iran already has nukes that are small enough and light
enough to be delivered by a ballistic missile. Worse, Powell implies
the IAEA is not competent – even with Additional Protocols
in place – to detect such massive and flagrant NPT violations.

Two
years ago Powell had this to say:

"The
NPT can only be as strong as our will to enforce it, in spirit and
in deed. We share a collective responsibility to be ever vigilant,
and to take concerted action when the Treaty – our treaty –
is threatened."

The
NPT is being threatened. And guess who’s threatening it.

November
22, 2004

Physicist
James Gordon Prather [send
him mail
] 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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