Let's Murder the Iranians

Hours before his "ratification" inaugural, Vice President Dick Cheney was chatting with Don Imus on MSNBC about Iraqi and Iranian "nuclear programs."

Now, Cheney appears to know the difference between a "nuclear program" and a "nuclear weapons program." Bush may not. In any case, both Cheney and Bush want you to hear "nuclear weapons" when they say "nuclear."

Recall that in the months and weeks before Bush-Cheney launched a "preventive" war against Iraq on the pretext of keeping Saddam from giving nuclear weapons to terrorists, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, had reported to the U.N. Security Council that there was no evidence that any attempt had been made in the past decade to reconstitute Saddam’s nuclear programs.

That’s right. Not only did Saddam not have a "nuclear weapons program"; he didn’t even have a "nuclear program."

Nevertheless, right up until the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Cheney was claiming – without a shred of evidence – that Saddam had a nuke program and that ElBaradei couldn’t find it with both hands and a covert road map.

Now, in the years, months and weeks before Cheney’s "ratification" inaugural, Cheney has been claiming – without a shred of evidence – that the Iranian mullahs have a nuke program and that ElBaradei couldn’t find it with both hands and a covert road map.

Iran has been a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty since 1970, its "nuclear programs" subject to an IAEA Safeguards Agreement.

But, in his 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush had this to say about Iran, Iraq and North Korea.

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.

More than a year ago, after watching what Bush did to Iraq, Iran voluntarily subjected itself to an intrusive go-anywhere see-anything additional protocol to their IAEA Safeguards Agreement. Under the additional protocol, activities and sites that formerly did not need to be "declared" at all, or only shortly before operations involving "special nuclear materials" began, must now be "declared" while still in the planning stage. Iran volunteered to temporarily "freeze" its gas-centrifuge research, development and production program.

Any past or present violations of Iran’s Safeguards Agreement, was to be reported to the IAEA Board of Governors. If and only if the board decided the violations amounted to a violation of the NPT, itself, the board was to refer the matter to the U.N. Security Council for possible action.

The IAEA has now visited every site the Iranians have "declared" under the additional protocol, as well as at least two sites the U.S. "suspected" ought to have been declared, but weren’t. Iran had also given the IAEA permission to review its import and export records, going back at least a decade.

Result? The IAEA has found some minor violations, but no indication that Iran is now pursuing – or ever has pursued – a nuclear weapons program.

The IAEA even verified that the Iranians have not yet operated their pilot-plant uranium-enrichment cascade, or even completed their commercial-scale plant.

But, Bush-Cheney and the Israelis are loudly demanding that the "freeze" be made permanent and that Iran never be allowed to have a uranium-enrichment capability, even one subject to IAEA safeguards.

So, back to Cheney and Imus. After asking Cheney "what will happen" if we find out the Iranians do have a nuclear weapons program, Imus wondered aloud, "Why don’t we make Israel do it."

Cheney replies:

Well, one of the concerns people have is that Israel might do it without being asked, that if, in fact, the Israelis became convinced the Iranians had significant nuclear capability, given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards.

Now, some pundits have interpreted that remark to be a warning to Israel to not launch pre-emptive strikes against Iran’s safeguarded facilities.

But, others have interpreted it to be a "green light" for the Israelis. After all, as far as Cheney is concerned, there will merely be a "diplomatic mess" to clean up.

Which is it? Stay tuned.

February 2, 2005