Iran Is Iraq X 2

In announcing the president’s decision to nominate John Bolton to be ambassador to the United Nations, Condi Rice noted that, as under-secretary of state for arms control and international security, Bolton “has held primary responsibility” within the Bush-Cheney administration “for stemming the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

Bolton’s principal achievement? “John helped build a coalition of more than 60 countries to help combat the spread of WMD through the president’s Proliferation Security Initiative.”

Now, as you probably know, the only true “weapon of mass destruction” is a nuke.

But, perversely, our future ambassador to the U.N. has been “point man” in the Bush administration’s campaign to undermine the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to discredit and/or supersede the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. organization assigned by the Treaty to verify compliance by all its signatories.

In his first State of the Union message, President Bush essentially accused North Korea, Iran and Iraq of having nuke programs, conducted in violation of the NPT, right under the noses and other sensors of the IAEA.

In particular, under the Agreed Framework of 1994, all existing North Korean “nuclear” activities had been “frozen” — under IAEA lock and seal — in return for a promise of free nuclear power plants and an interim supply of free fuel oil.

Obviously, if Bush was to impose “regime change” on Iraq, Iran and North Korea on the pretext they had nukes, the IAEA nuke proliferation-prevention regime had to be discredited or superseded.

So, first Bush unilaterally abrogated the Agreed Framework — whereupon North Korea, predictably, withdrew from the NPT and resumed producing and recovering weapons-grade plutonium.

Then, Bush announced in late 2002 his own National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction, from which Bolton developed the aforementioned Proliferation Security Initiative.

According to Bolton, the PSI was necessary because “proliferators and those facilitating the procurement of deadly capabilities are circumventing existing laws, treaties and controls against WMD proliferation.”

Presumably, Bolton had in mind Israel, Pakistan and India. But none of them are NPT signatories; none of them are subject to full-scope IAEA-NPT Safeguards.

So, how does Bolton expect his PSI to succeed where the IAEA has allegedly failed?

In the particular case of North Korea — no longer subject to the NPT and the IAEA Safeguards regime — how did Bolton propose to prevent their turning their weapons-grade plutonium into nukes?

Obviously, he couldn’t.

Well, how about preventing North Korea from transferring their plutonium nukes — or the makings, thereof — to another state or to a terrorist group.

Bolton intended to:

Take appropriate actions to 1) stop and/or search in their internal waters, territorial seas or contiguous zones (when declared) vessels that are reasonably suspected of carrying such cargoes to or from states or non-state actors of proliferation concern and to seize such cargoes that are identified, and 2) enforce conditions on vessels entering or leaving their ports, internal waters or territorial seas that are reasonably suspected of carrying such cargoes, such as requiring that such vessels be subject to boarding, search and seizure of such cargoes prior to entry.

Reasonably suspected?

By whom?

The U.S. “intelligence community”?

The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the U.S. Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction is due to report to the president by the end of this month.

According to the New York Times, the nine-member bipartisan presidential panel, led by Laurence Silberman, a retired federal judge, and Charles S. Robb, a former governor and senator from Virginia, had unrestricted access to the most senior people and the most sensitive documents of the intelligence agencies.

As you know, with respect to Iraq, the U.N. inspectors had it right; our “intelligence community” had it all wrong.

It’s understandable that the panel is expected to be sharply critical of American intelligence with respect to North Korea’s nuclear programs. Since Bush provoked North Korea into withdrawing from the NPT, there have been no IAEA inspectors on the ground in North Korea to provide “intelligence.”

But, according to the New York Times, one person privy to the panel’s deliberations and conclusions characterized American intelligence on Iran as “scandalous.”

How could that be? If our intelligence weenies want to learn everything there is to know about Iran’s nuclear programs, surely they learned their lesson in Iraq. All they have to do is go to the IAEA’s website, click on “In Focus: IAEA and Iran,” and read the IAEA’s exhaustive reports.

That is, if Ambassador Bolton — or his PSI replacement — will let them.

March 14, 2005