Friday, March 23, 2012

Iran and the bomb

Israel has possessed a nuclear weapons capability since the late 1960s, and remains outside of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) - an international treaty obligation that would place all civilian facilities under the purview of international monitoring and safeguards, and force the abandonment of existing nuclear weapons programmes in return for various security guarantees. Iran most certainly does NOT possess a current nuclear weapons capability. It is a signatory to the NPT and is subjected to - despite some reluctance - international verification and safeguards standards by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in a way that Israel is not. Iran has categorically and emphatically stated that it has no intention of acquiring a nuclear weapons capability yet Western intelligence, including that by the UN nuclear watchdog contended that it does. Iran is under greater scrutiny for nuclear weapons development than Israel has been for actually possessing an undeclared and uninspected nuclear arsenal for over 40 years.

Several years ago, the UK had a Kelly who exposed the false claims that Iraq possessed WMDs . Today another Kelly is reported in the Guardian throwing doubts upon Iran's supposed WMD potential. Robert Kelley, a former US weapons scientists who ran the IAEA action team on Iraq at the time of the US-led invasion, said there were worrying parallels between the west's mistakes over Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction then and the IAEA's assessment of Iran now. "What we learned back in 2002 and 2003, when we were in the runup to the war, was that peer review was very important, and that the analysis should not be left to a small group of people," Kelley said. "So what have we learned since then? Absolutely nothing. Just like [former US vice-president] Dick Cheney, Amano is relying on a very small group of people and those opinions are not being checked."

Kelley argues that with war and peace in the balance, as well as the IAEA's credibility, anything it publishes must be thoroughly verified. In particular, he questions the agency's focus on a bus-sized steel vessel supposedly installed in an Iranian military site at Parchin in 2000, which the November report said was for "hydrodynamic experiments" – testing shaped, high-explosive arrays used to implode the spherical fissile core of a warhead and start a chain reaction. Kelley disputes the agency's logic.

"You don't do hydrodynamic testing of nuclear bombs in containers," he said. "All of such tests would be done at outdoor firing sites, not in a building next to a major highway."

Kelley also says the suggestion in the November report that weapons experimentation could be continuing is based largely on a single document, which ElBaradei had rejected as dubious. In his memoir, The Age of Deception, ElBaradei talks about documents supplied in 2009 by Israel, the authenticity of which was questioned by the agency's experts.

Mark Hibbs, a nuclear expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "The election [of Amano IAEA's director] was extremely polarised and bitter." US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks which revealed Amano's assiduous courting of American support. In an October 2009 cable, the US charge d'affaires, Geoffrey Pyatt, wrote: "Amano reminded [the] ambassador on several occasions that he would need to make concessions to the G-77 [the developing countries group], which correctly required him to be fair-minded and independent, but that he was solidly in the US court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program." In an earlier cable in July that year, the Americans recount discussions with Amano on the future of officials, particular in Expo [the agency's office of external relations and policy co-ordination], "some of whom have not always been helpful to US positions". Last year, the named officials were moved to other jobs, out of the inner core which drafts the quarterly reports, like the one on Iran in November.

No one knows for sure whether Iran is presently working to acquire the atomic bomb or not. But we're left with a situation similar to that faced by Saddam Hussein's Iraq: prove that you don't have what you claim you don't have! Iran's enemies and their threats of bomb the country are leaving it little room to manouver - either actually develop a nuclear weapons programme to protect the country from future attack or turn your peaceful intentions of acquiring nuclear energy into appearing something more sinister. If Iran is purposefully playing a diplomatic game of ambiguity, they are only following the the example of Israel's deliberate equivocation upon the existance of their nuclear deterrent.

The threat that the mullahs of a nuclear armed Iran would commit national suicide by firing missiles at Israel or the US is without credibility. SOYMB does not presently see any reason to doubt President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent statement when he explained "The Iranian nation is wise. It won't build two bombs against 20,000 [nuclear] bombs you have...".


ajohnstone said...

Israel, always vociferous in its accusations against Iran’s nuclear program, is widely known to possess between 200 and 400 nuclear warheads. Tel Aviv, however, refuses to allow its nuclear facilities to come under international regulatory inspections and rejects all the regulatory international nuclear agreements. Ex-IAEA official and ex Iraq WMD inspector Hans Blix highlighted that it was typical for any country to be rather reluctant and not let international inspectors go anywhere in such venues. Nevertheless, Iranians have been more open than most other countries and noted that Iran had been very cooperative as to allowing the IAEA experts to visit the Parchin military base and suspected nuclear weapon research centre.

In an interview with Al Jazeera TV Blix questioned a report delivered by the IAEA in November on Iran’s nuclear activities, pinpointing that the agency receives unverified intelligence, mostly from the US and Israel. The UN nuclear agency’s current Director General Yukiya Amano issued a report on November 8, accusing Iran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Blix stated that the IAEA received information from a variety of sources, mostly from the United States and Israel. “My view is that they must assess it very carefully and critically because otherwise they can be pulled by their noose,” he asserted. “I remember from inspections in 2002 and 2003 that there was a famous document that allegedly to be a contract between Iraq and Niger for the import of yellow cake of uranium oxide quoted by President Bush in his State of the Union message. The IAEA had it for one day and concluded that it was a forgery. [Former IAEA head] lBaradei then announced it was not authentic. That shows how careful you have to be,” Blix stated.

ajohnstone said...

News Unspun, which is an alternative analysis source to mainstream news media, said four major news websites have suggested an attack on Iran “attack on Iran would violate international law” only in four articles while they have ran 31 articles suggesting “Iran has, could have, or might violate international law.”

“The media takes little interest in informing us that threats of war, and war itself, are illegal… Government claims that Iran has either acted or is threatening to act outside of international law are, however, free to flourish and propagate their way through the mainstream,”

News Unspun said it has examined the stories on the BBC, The Guardian, The Independent and The Telegraph since October 1, 2011.