NY Times Interviews Nuke Czar

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David
Sanger — a New York Times reporter — has actually visited
the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna and interviewed
its director general, Mohamed ElBaradei. Sanger’s resulting report
— entitled “When a Virtual Bomb May Be Better Than the Real Thing”
— appeared last Sunday.

Until
now, Sanger and other media sycophants have been uncritically accepting
neo-con misinformation about nuclear programs — past and present
— in Iraq, Iran and North Korea.

The
neo-cons had President Bush say this about Iraq, Iran and North
Korea in his 2002 State of the Union Address:

States
like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of
evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons
of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger.
They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means
to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt
to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price
of indifference would be catastrophic.

We’ll
be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on
events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws
closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit
the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s
most destructive weapons.

Nine
months later, Bush went to Congress seeking “specific statutory
authorization” to invade Iraq. He based his request upon a highly
classified National Intelligence Estimate that supposedly “proved”
Saddam was reconstructing his nuke and chem-bio weapons programs,
with the intention of supplying those weapons to Islamic terrorists
for use against us.

That
NIE turned out to be a neo-con “con job.” Nevertheless:

The
president is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United
States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order
to defend the national security of the United States against the
continuing threat posed by Iraq.

But
there was a catch.

Before
resorting to force, Bush had to satisfy Congress that “reliance
on peaceful means alone will not adequately protect the national
security of the United States.”

That
meant Bush had to give U.N. inspectors an opportunity to do a go-anywhere
see-anything search of Iraq to see if a resort to force was necessary
to disarm Saddam Hussein.

By
mid-March of 2003, the U.N. inspectors had reported back to the
Security Council that Saddam had made no attempt to reconstitute
his weapons of mass destruction programs since 1991 and had effectively
been disarmed since at least 1998.

Hence,
it must have been absolutely stupefying to Iran and North Korea
when Dubya “determined” on March 19 that no “further diplomatic
or other peaceful means will adequately protect the national security
of the United States from the continuing threat posed by Iraq.”

And
invaded Iraq the next day.

Bush
had unilaterally abrogated — just after he went to Congress to ask
for authority to invade Iraq — the so-called Agreed Framework —
verified by the IAEA — wherein North Korea “froze” all nuclear reactors
and related facilities.

So,
North Korea had withdrawn from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,
ejected IAEA personnel and restarted its plutonium-producing nuclear
reactor. Immediately after Bush invaded Iraq, North Korea announced
it was chemically recovering the weapon-grade plutonium already
produced. Enough for five or six nukes, according to U.S. “intelligence”
estimates.

Now,
there can be no question that ElBaradei was right about Iraq. But
what about Iran?

Well,
after more than 20 months of go-anywhere see-anything searching,
ElBaradei has found no “indication” that Iran has — or ever had
— a nuclear-weapons program.

But
the neo-cons claim that Iran’s having the capability to enrich uranium
is tantamount to Iran’s having nukes. That’s nonsense, of course.
Iran’s having the capability to enrich uranium is not even tantamount
to having the capability to produce the essentially pure uranium-235
required to make a nuke.

And
even if Iran did have the capability and had somehow managed to
secretly produce a few hundred pounds of uranium-235, that wouldn’t
be tantamount to actually having nukes, either — especially implosion-type
nukes.

However,
it has been widely reported that ElBaradei told Sanger that having
the capability was tantamount. ElBaradei didn’t.

When
asked whether or not he thought North Korea had actually made five
or six nukes with their weapons-grade plutonium, ElBaradei asked,
“What’s the difference?” What ElBaradei meant was that, in his
opinion, there is very little difference in the deterrent value
of real nukes and “virtual” nukes.

He’s
wrong about that, of course. So are the neo-cons.

December
15, 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.

Gordon
Prather Archives

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