Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Once more unto the breach

This article is the work of Scott Ritter (The former UN weapons inspector in Iraq, 1991-1998.)The original can be found at the source Here






The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has just released a report concerning Iran's nuclear programme, in which it notes that Iran has failed to comply with the UN security council's demands to cease its nuclear enrichment programmes. The IAEA report finds that Iran has, in defiance of the security council, in fact carried out a successful test to enrich uranium to the low levels needed in the production of nuclear energy. The IAEA also found that Iran had failed to provide a level of cooperation and transparency necessary for the IAEA to exclude the possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapons programme being carried out under the guise of civilian nuclear energy activities.

While the IAEA's report has underscored Iran's disturbing disregard for responding to the concerns of both the IAEA and the UN security council, it does not certify Iran as a clear and present danger, requiring a strong and immediate response from the international community. And yet the IAEA report has generated rhetoric from both the United States and Europe that seems well beyond that which the content of the report seems to merit. The British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, has joined US officials in condemning the Iranian government for its failure to halt its nuclear enrichment efforts, and has called for the UN security council to "increase the pressure on Iran". Many officials in Europe have echoed the UK position, believing, it seems, that such action represents a manifestation of President George Bush's stated objective of resolving the Iranian matter "diplomatically and peacefully".

Just how naive can Europe be? While public sentiment against the US-led invasion (and ongoing occupation) of Iraq remains high, manifesting itself in the reduction of the original "coalition of the willing" to pathetic levels, Europe ("old" and "new") continues to behave as if the current conflict with Iraq and the potential of future conflict with Iran remain two separate and distinct issues.

It is shocking to see European officials, skilled in the heavily nuanced world of EU diplomacy, accept without question the sophomoric equivocation by the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice that "Iran is not Iraq". This phrase has been used repeatedly by Rice to deflect any query as to whether or not there are any parallels between the current US "diplomatic" stance on Iran and the "diplomacy" undertaken in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, which has widely been acknowledged as representing little more than a smokescreen behind which the Bush administration prepared for a war already decided upon.

Iran may not be Iraq, but these two nations are inextricably linked through the Machiavellian machinations of a US national security strategy that not only embraces the legitimacy of pre-emptive war, but also the notion of America's inherent right to pursue a policy of "regional transformation" in the Middle East, a policy that has as its core operational thematic pre-emptive military action to remove the regimes of so-called "failed" and "rogue" states. In the 2006 version of this national security strategy, Iran is named 16 times as the leading threat to the national security of the United States. I would hope every European diplomat has read this document, and takes its contents to heart. The national security strategy of the United States, circa 2006, can leave no doubt as to what the true intent of the Bush administration is regarding Iran: regime change. The current "crisis" regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions represents nothing more than an emotionally-charged facilitator for war.

Europe continues to act as if the American policy objective of regime change is nothing more than the irresponsible blathering of rightwing media pundits. The self-delusion that encompasses this way of thinking holds that Europe's stance vis-á-vis Iran serves more as a brake toward conflict, than the accelerant it actually is. As such, the European nations taking the lead on the Iranian issue - the UK, France and Germany - will meet on May 2 in Paris with representatives from Russia, China and the United States as a precursor for a meeting of the security council on May 3. The United States has already made clear its intent to introduce a draft resolution under Chapter VII of the UN charter, elevating Iran's obstinacy to the level of a clear and present danger to international peace and security, and paving the way for the imposition of stringent economic sanctions against Iran. The United States will be lobbying quite hard for such a resolution, and is looking to a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Paris group in New York on May 9 as the time and place for bringing this issue to a head.

While such measures appear on the surface to represent sound, measured diplomatic responses, the reality is that once the United States introduces a Chapter VII resolution, even in draft form, war with Iran is all but assured. Russia and China, both permanent members of the security council with veto powers, have made clear their collective objection to any Chapter VII action against Iran. However, by endorsing the transfer of the Iranian issue from the International Atomic Energy Agency to the security council, as well as the original security council "warning" against Iran, both Russia and China have played into the hands of US policy-makers, who have and will continue to use these actions as a clear endorsement of their position that Iran and its nuclear programme represents a threat to international security.

If the Russians and Chinese balk over the imposition of Chapter VII-linked measures against Iran, as they have indicated they will, then the Bush administration will simply declare that the security council has become impotent and irrelevant in dealing with threats that it has itself declared to exist, and, as such, the United States, not wanting to have its own national security interests so hijacked, will have no choice but to move forward void of any security council endorsement or authorisation. This model of action directly parallels that undertaken by the US and UK regarding Iraq, and has been strongly alluded to in recent statements made by Vice-President Cheney, the US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, and Rice.

The United States has positioned itself masterfully in this regard. But the sense of urgency being pushed by the Bush administration does not match the reality painted by its own director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, who recently testified before the US Congress that Iran was, at best, 10 years away from having a nuclear weapons capability. As such, there is no need for the security council to pursue this matter under the guise of a Chapter VII resolution. In fact, there is no need for the security council to be engaged on this issue at all, at least at this time.

The one real hope of side-stepping this mad rush towards war with Iran lays in a statement made by the Iranian government, offering to deal openly and transparently with the concerns listed in the IAEA's report within a matter of weeks, if the Iranian nuclear issue is transferred away from the security council and back to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The best thing the Europeans could do at this time would be to join ranks with the Russians and Chinese to take up the Iranian offer, defusing a very tense and dangerous situation that, as it currently stands, seems to be spinning close toward yet another needless war in the Middle East.

4 Comments:

Blogger AP said...

If Iran's purpose for enriching uranium is so peacfull, why their anti Semitic rethoric and refusal to cooperate with the IAEA?

Why does Iran link their energy developement with the destruction of Isreal?

Not so bening I think.

Does Scott Ritter think that Iran is developing nuclear capabilities in a vacumn?

Does he really think that 10 years is realistic given the desires of the Russians and the Chinese to capitalize on Irans possecion of a nuclear weapon?

And is it lost on Ritter the fact that Venezuela is now exporting Uranium to Iran?

What do you suppose Iran will give Chavez in return, a thank you card?

Ritter's agenda is clear and he is as devoid of credability as Irans president is of good will towards Isreal.

I only wish we could just sit and wait "10" years to see what Iran will do with its nuclear capabilities. Would be very interesting indeed.

May 03, 2006 5:06 pm  
Blogger Hype said...

Iran has every right to learn and protect themselves. Damn information police are trying to control ideas and thoughts. ...and they might have gotten away with it, if it wasn't for those damn blogger kids.

-Hype

May 03, 2006 6:30 pm  
Blogger _H_ said...

AP

These are all Non sequiturs ,(IE it does not follow)

The rhetoric of Iran towards Israel ( or on the flip side the way the Israelis treat the palestinians) is of no connection to Iran peaceful (or not) program to enrich Uranium.

Why do you link Iran's Energy development with the 'destruction of Israel ?

Iran has complied with the IAEA under the terms accepted by there signatory within the NPT. In fact the most recent IAEA report said there had not been...

"any diversion of nuclear material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices",

They merely 'requested'

Iran to substantially increase its cooperation with the IAEA inspectors as the agency has not been able "to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran."

You see , it depends whether you actually read the full content of the words of the IAEA or just the rhetoric and hype of the US government and western press. So why are you assuming Iran is not working with the IAEA ?

The IAEA found no smoking gun. Just concern that Iran was not following United nations security council requests.

The IAEA and the UNSC are not the same thing. Iran has always been an NPT signatory. Hence, the Safeguards Agreement covering all its a) "source or special nuclear materials," b) facilities where such materials are stored, and c) activities involving the chemical or physical transformation of such materials, remains in force only so long as Iran is a signatory to the NPT.

For more than two years, Iran has negotiating an Additional Protocol to its existing Safeguards Agreement, and was, until recently, "cooperating" with the IAEA as if the Additional Protocol were actually in force. But it isn't, yet, and probably never will be, since the Iranian Parliament has directed its Atomic Energy Agency to stop "cooperating" as if it were. Which is their right

The NPT does not require non-nuke NPT signatories to negotiate and conclude an Additional Protocol to their IAEA Safeguards Agreements. Hence, the IAEA Board most certainly cannot make such a requirement of Iran.

Iran does not have to follow the requests of the UNSC for it is not their jurisdiction to define policy under the terms of the NPT

Here is the IAEA conclusion, which others will not quote for you at such length:

' 33. All the nuclear material declared by Iran to the Agency is accounted for. Apart from the small quantities previously reported to the Board, the Agency has found no other undeclared nuclear material in Iran. However, gaps remain in the Agency’s knowledge with respect to the scope and content of Iran’s centrifuge programme. Because of this, and other gaps in the Agency’s knowledge, including the role of the military in Iran’s nuclear programme, the Agency is unable to make progress in its efforts to provide assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran.

34. After more than three years of Agency efforts to seek clarity about all aspects of Iran’s nuclear programme, the existing gaps in knowledge continue to be a matter of concern. '
This ambiguity is being twisted by the Bush administration to make it seem as though Iran has done something illegal. The report can be read to say that there is no evidence that Iran is doing anything illegal.

In fact, under the NPT, countries do have the right to do the sort of experiments Iran is doing. Most of the complaints are not about substance but about something else

Why do you concern yourself with countries who are signed up to the non proliferation treaty when there clearly are countries whom do have the dreaded bomb who are not signed up to the NPT such as India and Israel ?

Why would you accept reports of Iran importing uranium when it is a natural resource of their own country ?

Did you also believe them when they said Iraq was importing Uranium from Niger ? (when they too have Uranium as a natural resource)

Finally why would you attempt to discredit a qualified UN inspector without stating what qualifications and what ground experience that you yourself have that makes you qualified to judge Mr ritter ?

It sounds to me like your more politically motivated then factually motivated in fact the words of the infamous downing street memos come to mind

The facts are being fixed around the policy

May 03, 2006 6:38 pm  
Blogger Hype said...

damn good response H. I would add that this rift runs deep.

please read about the CIA's activities in Iran before the hostage crisis.

Here is a good resource:

http://www.thememoryhole.org/espionage_den/

-Hype

May 03, 2006 7:01 pm  

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