Showing posts with label IAEA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label IAEA. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Did Robert Gates Manufacture the Iran Crisis?--Huffington Post--Beeman

com/william-o-beeman/robert-gates-iran_b_5002405.html>

Did Robert Gates Manufacture the Iran Crisis?

Posted: 03/24/2014 1:27 pm EDT Updated: 03/24/2014 1:27 pm EDT

Gareth Porter has been the most conscientious follower of the purported danger of Iran's purported "nuclear weapons program." In his new, meticulously documented book, Manufactured Crisis (New York: Just World Books, 2014) he exposes the many lies and half-truths that have been promulgated over more than two decades to try and convince the American public and the world that Iran is the chief danger to international peace through its nuclear program.

One of Porter's surprising implications is that former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates may have been the prime mover in the 20-year-old attack on Iran based on unsubstantiated claims that Iran is manufacturing nuclear weapons.

Before plunging into the details of Porter's book or his information about Mr. Gates, let me state the book's conclusions unequivocally: Iran has never been proven to have a nuclear weapons program. Any claim to the contrary is absolutely false. The attempt to claim that such a weapons program exists was the result of a decades long effort on the part of American neoconservatives allied with right-wing forces in Israel to legitimize hostile actions against Iran designed to effect regime change there.

Porter's overall account of the evolution of consensus about the threat of Iran's nuclear program is fascinating and appalling reading. It is fascinating because he has created a compelling narrative showing how the framework for attacking Iran compounded lies and misinformation over many years. It appears in this account that Robert Gates had a continuing central role.

Robert Gates had been employed by the CIA since college. He was witness to the Iran-Contra affair under President Reagan, and was called to give testimony about his knowledge of the affair. Despite continual questions about the conduct of the CIA during the 1980's and early 1990's in which he had a central role, Gates rose through the ranks of the intelligence community. He served as Deputy National Security Adviser (1989-1991) -- a promotion from his role as Deputy Director of National Intelligence (1986-1989), and finally became Director of Central Intelligence in 1991 after contentious hearings

One of the most telling episodes in Porter's book concerns President George H.W. Bush. In 1989 he was willing to improve relations with Iran eliminating sanctions that had been in place since the Revolution of 1978-79. At that time American hostages were being held by Shi'a forces in Lebanon. Then Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati intervened, and all American prisoners were released. Bush was grateful and was supported by his National Security Advisor, Brent Snowcroft but suddenly his administration reversed course.

This is the point at which Robert Gates becomes a major player in the attacks against Iran. As Porter describes it, though Snowcroft and Bush wanted improved relations, everyone else on the National Security team -- and one assumes that this includes Gates -- insisted that Iran was "deeply engaged in other acts of terrorism that made it very, very difficult to improve the relationship" (p. 87). Porter goes on to demonstrate that these "other acts of terrorism" were unsubstantiated. Essentially the decision not to go forward with improved relations with Iran was a political one and not based on any proven Iranian actions.

After Gates became CIA Director, the disinformaton about Iran continued. Porter documents that in 1992 it was Gates who first declared in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on March 27, with no hard evidence, that "Iran is developing a capability to produce weapons of mass destruction," and was "seeking to acquire a nuclear weapons capability." The phrase "nuclear weapons capability" likely originated here.

In this way the juggernaut against Iran was launched. Although the National Intelligence estimate for 1992 declared that Iran would not seriously threaten U.S. interests, Gates' estimate became gospel for the balance of the Bush administration, carrying forward into the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations. Gates' influence was indeed extremely telling.

After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, the George W. Bush administration was dominated by neo-conservatives who had been active since the administration of his father and were anxious to see regime change throughout the Middle East. They ignored the fact that the Iranian nuclear energy program had started in earnest during the last years of the regime of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and declared that Iran had been undertaking "secret" nuclear developments. In fact, these were not at all secret, and had been governed by the rules of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to which Iran and the United States (but not Israel, Pakistan, India or North Korea) were signatories, and which guaranteed Iran the "inalienable right" to the peaceful development of nuclear power.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was charged with carrying out inspections of Iran's nuclear program (and indeed, the nuclear programs of all signatories to the Treaty). They never once found the slightest evidence that Iran had a nuclear weapons program or had diverted any nuclear material for military use.

Still Gates' 10-year old assertion that Iran was seeking to acquire a "nuclear weapons capability," though completely unproven, was seized upon by the neoconservatives who wanted to bring down the Iranian regime.

As Porter documents, the IAEA quickly became politicized. Its head, Mohammad elBaradei was excoriated by the George W. Bush administration who tried to get him fired because he would not assert that Iran was building nuclear weapons. His eventual successor Yukio Amano was more compliant. Though still not able to say that Iran had a demonstrable nuclear weapons program, IAEA reports after he took office used convoluted language to suggest that they "could not eliminate the possibility" that Iran might be building nuclear weapons. Several attempts on Iran's part during the Bush administration to negotiate over misunderstandings of its program were rebuffed by Washington, partially due to those same neoconservatives in his administration, notably John Bolton who served as United Nations Ambassador on a recess appointment during a the crucial period from 2005-2006 and made it his mission to attack Iran with falsehoods at every turn.

Porter presents example after example of the U.S. Press, notably the New York Times, distorting the facts about Iran's nuclear activities. Every action and decision was placed under a microscope, and though Iran had only completed one reactor in development since before the Revolution, and was far from completing any facility for additional generation of nuclear power, the hyperbole in the press made it seem that Iran would have a bomb tomorrow. Lobbying groups such as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) influenced these writings and lobbied the U.S. Congress for more stringent sanctions on Iran with the aim of completely dismantling Iran's forty-year old nuclear program. They also supported military action against Iran either by the United States or by Israel. Porter's book features the famous picture of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointing to a picture of a Warner Brothers cartoon bomb and inveighing against Iran.

In 2006 President George W. Bush nominated Robert Gates to be secretary of defense. Gates had been serving as president of Texas A&M University, and was persuaded to leave that post to return to national service. He was retained by President Obama after the 2008 election. It is notable that although President Obama had pledged to engage Iran diplomatically, in his first term, no serious diplomatic efforts were undertaken. To the contrary, increased rhetoric claiming that Iran had a nuclear weapons program issued from the White House and the Department of Defense. It was only after then Secretary Gates left office that the Obama administration began to engage in serious diplomatic talks with Iran. This process was aided by the election of Hassan Rowhani as president of Iran and the appointment of Javad Zarif, American educated former Iranian U.N. Ambassador, as Minister of Foreign Relations.

Aside from the intriguing clues to Robert Gates' probable role in constructing a false picture of the Iranian nuclear danger, Porter's book is essential reading for all Americans wary of manufactured paths to war that have become a major theme in U.S. foreign relations after World War II. Porter shows how ideology can distort facts, and be used as a weapon to sway public opinion in directions that are inimical to world interests. As talks with Iran in Vienna over its nuclear program proceed, Porter notes that the Obama administration, only after ridding itself of the extended influence of Robert Gates and his ilk, has finally made attempts to wind down the two decades of baseless attacks on Iran to try and forge a rapprochement. The question remains whether war mongers in Washington, Israel and some nations in Europe will come to their senses and let this happen.


Follow William O. Beeman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/wbeeman

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Tale of Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing--Review of Manufactured Crisis by Gareth Porter (Beeman)


http://womenagainstmilitarymadness.org/newsletter/2014/030414/tale.html
A Tale of Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing: Iran’s Nukes


Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare by Gareth Porter (New York: Just World Books, 2014)

Reviewed by William O. Beeman









Gareth Porter has been the most conscientious follower of the fantasy danger of Iran’s purported “nuclear weapons program.” In this new, meticulously documented book, he exposes the many lies and half-truths that have been promulgated over more than two decades to try and convince the American public and the world that Iran is the chief danger to international peace.

Before plunging into the details of the book, let me state its conclusions unequivocally: Iran has never been proven to have a nuclear weapons program. Any claim to the contrary is absolutely false. The attempt to claim that such a weapons program exists was the result of a decades-long effort on the part of American neoconservatives allied with right-wing forces in Israel to legitimize hostile actions against Iran designed to effect regime change there.

Porter’s account is fascinating and appalling reading. It is fascinating because he has created a compelling narrative showing how the framework for attacking Iran in this way evolved over decades. One of the most telling episodes in the book concerns President George H.W. Bush. In 1989 he was willing to improve relations with Iran eliminating sanctions that had been in place since the revolution of 1978-79. At that time American hostages were being held by Shi’a forces in Lebanon. Then Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati intervened, and all American prisoners were released. Bush was grateful and was supported by his national security advisor, Brent Snowcroft, but suddenly his administration reversed course.

As Porter describes it, though he and Bush wanted improved relations, everyone else on the national security team insisted that Iran was “deeply engaged in other acts of terrorism that made it very, very difficult to improve the relationship” (p. 87). Porter goes on to demonstrate that these “other acts of terrorism” were unsubstantiated. Essentially the decision not to go forward with improved relations was a political one and not based on any proven Iranian actions.

After Robert Gates, who had served on the National Security Council, became CIA director, the disinformaton about Iran continued. Porter documents that in 1992 it was Gates who first declared, with no hard evidence at all, that “Iran is developing a capability to produce weapons of mass destruction,” and was “seeking to acquire a nuclear weapons capability.”

In this way the juggernaut against Iran was launched. Although the national intelligence estimate for that year declared that Iran would not seriously threaten U.S. interests, Gates’ estimate became gospel for the balance of the Bush administration, carrying forward into the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations. Gates’ influence was indeed extremely telling.

After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, the George W. Bush administration was dominated by neoconservatives who had been active since the administration of his father and were anxious to see regime change throughout the Middle East. They ignored the fact that the Iranian nuclear energy program had started in earnest during the last years of the regime of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and declared that Iran had been undertaking “secret” nuclear developments. In fact, these were not at all secret, and had been governed by the rules of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to which Iran and the United States (but not Israel, Pakistan, India, or North Korea) were signatories, and which guaranteed Iran the “inalienable right” to the peaceful development of nuclear power.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was charged with carrying out inspections of Iran’s nuclear program (and indeed, the nuclear programs of all signatories to the treaty). They never once found the slightest evidence that Iran had a nuclear weapons program or had diverted any nuclear material for military use. Still Gates’ 10-year-old assertion that Iran was seeking to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, though completely unproven, was seized upon by the neoconservatives who wanted to bring down the Iranian regime.

As Porter documents, the IAEA quickly became politicized. Its head, Mohamed ElBaradei, was excoriated by the George W. Bush administration, who tried to get him fired because he would not assert that Iran was building nuclear weapons. His eventual successor, Yukio Amano, was more compliant. Though still not able to say that Iran had a demonstrable nuclear weapons program, IAEA reports after he took office used convoluted language to suggest that they “could not eliminate the possibility” that Iran might be building nuclear weapons. Several attempts on Iran’s part during the Bush administration to negotiate over misunderstandings of its program were rebuffed by Washington, partially due to those same neoconservatives in his administration, notably John Bolton, who served as United Nations ambassador on a recess appointment during the crucial period from 2005-2006 and made it his mission to attack Iran with falsehoods at every turn.

Porter presents example after example of the U.S. media, most notably The New York Times, distorting the facts about Iran’s nuclear activities. Every action and decision was placed under a microscope, and though Iran had only completed one reactor in development since before the revolution, and was far from completing any facility for additional generation of nuclear power, the hyperbole in the press made it seem that Iran would have a bomb tomorrow. Lobbying groups such as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) influenced these writings and lobbied the U.S. Congress for more stringent sanctions on Iran with the aim of completely dismantling Iran’s 40-year-old nuclear program. They also supported military action against Iran either by the United States or by Israel. Porter’s book features the famous picture of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointing to a picture of a Warner Brothers cartoon bomb and inveighing against Iran.

Porter’s book is essential reading for all Americans wary of the manufactured path to war. It shows how ideology can distort facts, and can be used as a weapon to sway public opinion in directions that are inimical to world interests. As talks with Iran in Vienna over its nuclear program proceed, Porter notes that the Obama administration, only after ridding itself of the extended influence of Robert Gates, has finally made attempts to wind down the two decades of baseless attacks on Iran to try and forge a rapprochement. The question remains whether warmongers in Washington, Israel, and some nations in Europe will come to their senses and let this happen.


William O. Beeman is professor of anthropology at the University of Minnesota. He has conducted research in Iran for over 40 years, and is author of The “Great Satan” vs. the “Mad Mullahs”: How the United States and Iran Demonize Each Other.





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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Eight Ways You're Wrong About Iran's Nuclear Program--Yousaf Butt [The National Interest]


Eight Ways You're Wrong About Iran's Nuclear Program



Monday, November 25, 2013

The Iran Accord -- Profoundly, and Primarily, Symbolic--(Huffington Post--William O. Beeman)

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-o-beeman/iran-nuclear-program_b_4332182.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

HUFFINGTON POST


The Iran Accord -- Profoundly, and Primarily, Symbolic


November 24, 2013

William O. Beeman
 Posted: 11/24/2013 7:33 pm

The principal benefit of the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 nations
on November 23 is that Iran and the United States were able to down to talk
and reach an agreement on *something*. Given 33 years of estrangement and
non-communication, this is an extraordinarily important development --
nearly equivalent to the U.S. breakthrough to China -- perhaps the signal
achievement of the Nixon administration.

The profound symbolism of the moment more than outweighs the lighter
substantive elements of the temporary agreement. The United States and its
partners appeared tough and got very little. Iran appeared tough and gave
up very little. Both sides saved face. This is the essence of a successful
agreement. No one "won" and no one "lost."

Iranians have been both sincere and clever in the negotiations. They played
up to the insubstantial straw-man accusations promulgated by the U.S. and
its partners, making them seem weightier than they were in reality. By
yielding to the P5+1 demands, in essence Iran has allowed itself to be
persuaded to stop temporarily doing what it never intended to do -- make a
nuclear weapon. The bottom line is that Iran did not give up very much in
the negotiations, (but it didn't gain very much either).

Reviewing the terms of the agreement in conjunction with the reality on the
ground in Iran, one can see how easy it was for Iran's negotiators to agree
to these terms.

Low Enriched Uranium


Iran's enrichment of uranium was the crux of the matter. The United States
and its allies had fetishized Iran's uranium enrichment program. They had
made the improbable leap that having enriched uranium would immediately
lead to a nuclear weapon. This is an immense mistake -- so large that one
must suspect that it is essentially hyped for public consumption. The
public has certainly been convinced of this.

However, Iran's low-enriched uranium stockpile cannot be used for any
military purpose, short of the rather improbable construction of a "dirty
bomb" -- a conventional warhead containing radioactive material, not to
explode, but to pollute. Such a primitive weapon has no practical use.
Under the agreement, Iran would cease adding to this stockpile.

Under the agreement, Iran will be allowed to continue to enrich uranium at
less than 5 percent purity -- a concession that preserves Iran's rights
under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to peaceful nuclear development
-- its fundamental demand going into the talks.

High Enriched Uranium 


Iran's stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium would be eliminated through
conversion to fuel plates for use in a research reactor or oxidized. It
could then not be further enriched or weaponized in any way. This seems
like a major concession, but when one understands why Iran was enriching to
the 20 percent level to begin with, it is less so.

Iran has a research reactor, the Tehran Research Reactor
(TRR)<http://www.nti.org/facilities/182/>that produced medical
isotopes for the treatment of cancer. The reactor had
been supplied by the United States in 1967. The United States at that time
provided weapons grade fuel for running the reactor. Iran was running out
of 20 percent fuel, and was expected to deplete the supply entirely by
2011. Iran tried to broker a deal for more 20 percent fuel with the United
States. A preliminary agreement was reached on October 1, 2010. The United
States reneged on the agreement. Iran then began enriching its own uranium
to the 19.75% level -- technically below the high-enriched uranium
threshold of 20%. After converting part of this this indigenously produced
fuel into non-weaponizeable reactor plates, it was introduced into the TRR
in February, 2012 <http://www.isisnucleariran.org/static/443/> . The
November 23 agreement will allow Iran to do what it was going to do anyway,
and finish converting the rest of its 19.75 percent fuel into
non-weaponizable reactor plates.

Arak Heavy Water Research Reactor


The agreement requires Iran not to activate its new small heavy water
research reactor in Arak. This small reactor was known to nuclear
inspectors for some time, but because it contained no fissile material, it
was not required to be monitored. The reactor was suddenly seized upon by
Israel and later by French Prime Minister François Hollande as a "path to
plutonium" -- a massive over-reaction. This was quickly echoed and
exaggerated in the press. The Christian Science monitor suggested that this
facility was in truth a "red herring" in the
negotiations<http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Security-Watch/2013/1118/Iran-s-Arak-nuclear-reactor-Real-dealbreaker-or-red-herring-video>.


The reactor has faced considerable delays in construction and is not
scheduled to open until 2016. It will produce a small amount of
electricity, but it is designed to eventually supplement then replace the
TRR, producing medical isotopes. Plutonium can be extracted from spent fuel
rods, but only if there is a completely new facility constructed to so
this. Iran has no such facility. If Iran were to decide to make a weapon
from this extracted plutonium, it would then need a third facility.
Additionally, as former IAEA nuclear inspector Robert Kelley points
out:"the reactor doesn't do anything without fuel, and so if you don't
have fuel, the reactor doesn't run. If the reactor doesn't run, it doesn't make
plutonium."  <http://therealnews.com/mobile/story.php?id=10995>


All of this time, the International Atomic Energy Agency would be
monitoring the use of the fissile material. Parallels with India, Pakistan
and Israel , who did use heavy-water reactors to extract plutonium and
build bombs are inaccurate, because as non-signatories to the NPT, the
actions of these nations were not monitored.

Building a Bomb? 


There is a strange irony in President Obama's announcement of the temporary
agreement. He mentioned the term "nuclear weapon" multiple times in his
announcement, implying that Iran was on a path to develop such a weapon.
One wonders if he actually believes this or if his repeated implied
accusation was a rhetorical device designed to placate his hard-line
critics.

The president must know by this time that there is no evidence that Iran
has or ever had a nuclear weapons program. Every relevant intelligence
agency in the world has verified this fact for more than a decade. Two U.S.
National Intelligence Estimates that were made public in 2007 and 2011
underscored this. The International Atomic Energy Agency has also
consistently asserted that Iran has not diverted any nuclear material for
any military purpose.

Even Israeli intelligence analysts agree that Iran is "not a danger" to
Israel. Typical is ex-Mossad chief Efraim Halevy who said on March 16 this
year that Iran "will not make it to the bomb," and that Israel's existence
"is not in danger and shouldn't be questioned"<http://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-is-dead-scared-of-israel-says-ex-mossad-chief/>

What Iran Gets in Return


Though Iran is not giving up very much in the November 23 agreement, it is
also not receiving a great deal in return. It will receive 6 to 7 billion
dollars' worth of sanctions relief, more than 4 billion of which is money
already owed to Iran in oil revenues, but frozen. In addition, Iran has
saved face; it did not give up on its inalienable right to enrich uranium
as guaranteed in the NPT. This may be enough to placate hardliners in the
Islamic Republic who have objected to dealings with the United States and
its allies in the past.

There will be some good feelings both in Washington and Tehran that this
astonishingly long impasse has finally been broken. Could either side have
gotten more from these talks? Probably not. In fact the limited gains for
both sides may well be a sign of the success of the negotiations.

The vitriolic nay-sayers trying to torpedo these talks in both capitals and
elsewhere have been thwarted for the moment, but they will certainly begin
condemning this process immediately. However, leaders in both nations
should flatly ignore them. The world can only hope that this small accord
will lead to more substantive rapprochement in the near future.


CORRECTIONS TO THE ABOVE--November 25


I wish to make a few corrections to my comments above, based largely on technical feedback I received after publication. I have no desire to promulgate mistakes.

1. I probably should not have even raised the idea of a "dirty bomb" made from low-enriched uranium. It is a really crazy idea--but one that has been widely used as a rhetorical device in the press attacking Iran's program. The idea that a nation would go to the trouble of building centrifuges and enriching uranium only to pack it into a warhead to spew radioactive material, and not very lethal material at that, defies logic.

2. The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of 2007 asserted that Iran did not have a nuclear weapons program after 2003. Numerous people have questioned whether the NIE had evidence of Iran having such a weapons program before 2003, and the NIE was silent on this issue. I am informed that Iran was in fact contemplating nuclear weapons in the late 1980's. Iran and Iraq fought a debilitating war from 1980-88 and Iraq was suspected of having or being in the process of developing nuclear weapons.

3. There is a typo in the original article, corrected above. Iran HAS (not had) the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) at present. It is aging but still active.

4. The Arak Heavy Water reactor is not accurately described as "small" It will be a large reactor by international standards. It was designed in the 1980's, so it has been in development. Its stated purpose to the IAEA is to serve as a research reactor for generation of medical and scientific isotopes.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Understanding the Iranian Perspective in Nuclear Negotiations--Huffington Post by William O. Beeman


It it's amazing that in the current nuclear negotiations taking place in Geneva  between the P5+1 nations and Iran no one in the public media is making the slightest attempt to present the Iranian perspective. That perspective is crystal clear and the US public needs to understand it to keep from going off the rails in paroxysms of irrelevant blather.

Briefly stated in Iran's position everything is based on the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to which Iran is a signatory and from which Iran derives its "inalienable right" to peaceful nuclear development.
There are 189 signatories to the Treaty (not including Israel, India, Pakistan or North Korea). The United States and its five allies do not have the power or the authority to deprive Iran of its rights under the treaty, including the right to enrich uranium and build nuclear reactors, a principle accepted for years by the Europeans and only recently called into question ONLY for Iran.

The U.S. and its allies have observed that some non-nuclear weapons states use nuclear technology but don't enrich uranium, and therefore Iran shouldn't claim that as a treaty right. First, that is not how the treaty reads. Besides this, however, the fact that some nuclear nations don't enrich uranium is utterly irrelevant. These nations could start tomorrow and no one would question them. Additionally, there are a number of NPT signatory states that do enrich uranium, such as Japan and Brazil, whose right to do so is unquestioned. Japan has even announced that it will construct nuclear weapons in the future if it has the need.

Some claim that Iran has violated the treaty by not allowing inspections of its facilities. Inspections under the NPT only pertain to sites with fissile material or which will contain fissile material in 180 days. The P5+1 nations negotiating with Iran have demanded unlimited additional inspections of non-fissile material sites without specifying them. Two are, however, widely mentioned: the incomplete Arak heavy-water nuclear electricity plant, which contains no fissile material and the Parchin military base, already inspected some years ago and found to have no fissile material.

UN Security Council resolutions on Iran have been cited as an "obligation" incumbent on Iran to cease its enrichment of uranium. However, these resolutions, starting with the first one,UNSC 1696 , although using the word "demand" in calling on Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, make it clear that this suspension is placed in the context of an earlier International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors resolution that sees such suspension as "necessary" as a confidence building measure. In the language of the resolution:
Outstanding questions can best be resolved and confidence built in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's program by Iran responding positively to the calls for confidence building measures which the Board has made on Iran (IAEA 2006)
It has now been seven years since these resolutions were approved. In the intervening years there has been no evidence whatever of an Iranian nuclear weapons program. Two publicly released US National Intelligence Estimates in 2007 and 2011 declared that Iran did not have an active nuclear weapons program. Every IAEA Report since 2003 declares that Iran has not diverted nuclear material for military purposes. Here is the relevant passage from the August 28, 2013 report.
Notwithstanding that certain of the activities being undertaken by Iran at some of the facilities are contrary to the relevant resolutions of the Board of Governors and the Security Council, as indicated below, the Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared material at these facilities and LOFs [locations outside facilies]. (IAEA 2013a, p. 3, section C.8.)
U.S. officials and media commentators have continually claimed that Iran is not cooperating with the IAEA. However on November 11, the Iranian government and the IAEA reached clear accords on Iran providing additional inspection and information regarding its program. Here is the language of the accord showing that Iran has agreed to:
1. Providing mutually agreed relevant information and managed access to the Gchine mine in Bandar Abbas
2. Providing mutually agreed relevant information and managed access to the Heavy Water Production Plant
3. Providing information on all new research reactors
4. Providing information with regard to the identification of 16 sites designated for the construction of nuclear power plants
5. Clarification of the announcement made by Iran regarding additional enrichment facilities
6. Further clarification of the announcement made by Iran with respect to laser enrichment technology (IAEA 2013b)
Iran's actions clearly do not constitute non-cooperation. The November 11 IAEA accord also includes provisions that have been discussed by the P5+1 negotiators, and have been indicated in press reports to still be controversial. Clearly these have been resolved to the satisfaction of the IAEA at present.

There are hosts of other irrelevant issues that have crept into press reports about Iran and these negotiations, such as concern about the Iranian government threatening to destroy Israel (a total lie -- it never happened) , supporting Hezbollah and Hamas, also claims with little contemporary merit. Iran's human rights record is definitely of great concern, as is its support for the Assad regime in Syria. But these again are irrelevant to the nuclear negotiations. The essence of these claims seem to be that Iran has behaved badly in other areas, and so doesn't deserve to enjoy its treaty rights.

This is not how treaty law operates, however. Many nations, including the United States have behaved badly in international relations in areas that have nothing to do with their rights and obligations under a host of treaties. To compare one with the other is a comparison of apples and oranges.

For the United States, France or the other P5+1 nations to expect Iran to abrogate its rights under pressure is both unrealistic and unreasonable. Iran will only relinquish those rights if it can be persuaded that it is receiving significant benefits for paying such a high price in terms of its sovereignty and honor. Certainly additional pressure in the form of increased sanctions against Iran will not be persuasive.


 Follow William O. Beeman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/wbeeman      

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Real News Network two-part interview with Robert Kelley on Iran’s Nuclear Program November 12-13, 2013 PART 2

The Real News Network two-part interview with Robert Kelley on Iran’s Nuclear Program
November 12-13, 2013




JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.
Talks between Iran and six global powers over its nuclear program fizzled out over the weekend. But plans are still in place for another meeting on November 20 in Geneva.
Now joining us to discuss this imminent meeting is Robert Kelley. He's a nuclear engineer who has worked in the U.S. nuclear complex for more than 30 years. He assisted the IAEA as the director in the Iraq Action Team.
Thank you so much for joining us, Robert.
ROBERT KELLEY, FORMER NUCLEAR WEAPONS ANALYST, LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY: [incompr.] Jessica.
DESVARIEUX: So if there needs to be absolute transparency--we're talking on the Iranian side--do you feel like Iran has been transparent? And could they be more transparent?
KELLEY: Iran has behaved in two different ways. With respect to their legal obligation to allow IAEA access to nuclear materials handling facilities--that's places like inversion plants, reactors, enrichment plants--they've been extremely transparent. They've been very cooperative. Something like 12 percent of the IAEA's total budget goes to inspecting one country, namely, Iran. And they get to go to every place they want to go in the nuclear business. But IAEA asks to go to places that are military facilities, factories for the military programs. And Iran has offered some opportunities for that in the past. They didn't feel that they were rewarded for it, and so they said no.
Personally, I'd like to see them go a little further and allow some access to some contentious military facilities that are not nuclear facilities, because it would tend to clear the books. But so far they haven't been willing to do that, because, as I say, they did it before.
DESVARIEUX: And, Robert, you often hear from the right and Israel and other factions here in the United States that at the end of the day, Iran does want a weapon. But if Iran were to weaponize, would they have to get the inspectors out of the country?
KELLEY: No, they wouldn't need to get the inspectors out. The inspectors are going to nuclear facilities, as I said earlier, and they don't have access to places where weaponization would go on.
Weaponization is largely conducted in laboratories, in computers, and is kind of lacking in signatures. It's very hard for intelligence people to see weaponization. The one place where it really shows up in something like satellite imagery is the high-explosive testing that goes along with it. So that's one place where people would look.
But all you have to do is go back and look at Iraq in 1980s. They were heavily involved in weaponization, in many cases in building next door to places where inspectors were, and the inspectors didn't know it.
The inspectors [inaud.] anyway. It's not in their job description. They are there to monitor nuclear materials. And most inspectors, frankly, just wouldn't recognize the indications of weapons, weaponization if they saw them.
DESVARIEUX: So do you feel like that adds to the legitimacy, you know, of--it's debatable, but legitimacy of the argument that if Iran would want to weaponize? And I only ask that because the negotiations are recommencing next week, and they're happening on November , 20 as I mentioned in the introduction. If you were in the negotiation room, what deal with you like to see come out of these talks?
KELLEY: Well, the weaponization issues are not going to be in the talks on the 20th. That's the really important thing that came out of the last few days. IAEA has retreated from that issue [inaud.] will be primarily devoted to the reactor at Arak and to the uranium enrichment. So that's very good news.
What would I like to see? I would like to see Iran come to where a lot of other countries are that have investigated weapons in the past. I think it's pretty clear to everybody that when the Iran-Iraq War was going on in the late '80s, that both countries were looking at nuclear weapons. And I suspect that some activities continued after that in Iran.
But if you go back and look up--I don't want to name all the countries that have done this, but take for example the Swiss, who published a document about their nuclear weapons program and what they did, and several other European countries that investigated the possibility and then backed off. Iran should really consider the possibility of doing the same. And that is saying, look, here's what we did do some years ago, here's where it led, and here are some of the political decisions that were made. The U.S. intelligence community believes that this program probably stopped in around 1973. And it today Iran is trying to remain a threshold state, if you will, a state that could make that decision today. But there are lots of other countries in that position.
You've also asked about transparency. I would like to add that Iran has just opened a new website. Their website is slick. It's Madison Avenue. It addresses all the issues we're talking about in plain, modern, colloquial English. And so they are trying very hard to come out now to the table and say, here we are, look it, here's what we have today, and here are the issues that we have today with the IAEA and the P5+1. So I think Iran is turning a corner in that regard in terms of trying to speak to the Western world language that the Western world understands and uses.
KELLEY: But, Robert, what about the IAEA? Could they be more transparent?
KELLEY: Oh, I definitely think they could. IAEA is accusing Iran of all kinds of things in the weaponization area. But they are not presenting their evidence. And so the material they're putting on the table is of questionable sourcing. And, frankly, the analysis of it is extremely poor. So when IAEA says to Iran, you're doing such and such at this building, the Iranians can see how bad the analysis is, and they want to know where the information is coming from. I think everyone knows who's feeding the IAEA the information, but IAEA really needs to be just more open with Iran and say, this is what we know, and this is why we're confronting you, and this is what we need to do to finish it.
DESVARIEUX: When you say everyone knows where the information's coming from, who are you talking about specifically?
KELLEY: Oh, I think it's very clear, if you've read Mohamed ElBaradei’s book, that this laptop information on which the military dimensions are based came from the U.S. and Israel. He names Israel as being willing to say, we provided information that we want you to follow up on [incompr.] So you certainly know those two countries at least are providing information. And there's at least a supposition that the information the U.S. is confronting with came through a third party.
DESVARIEUX: And if you want to keep following this story and get the latest information, please continue to watch The Real News and follow us on Twitter. And you can follow me on Twitter as well @Jessica_reports.
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