Friday, October 12, 2007

Whatever Happened To "Trust But Verify"?

By Cernig

It was Reagan's best line - "trust but verify" - delivered in the dark days of the Cold War about a massively-armed totalitarian state which the Wst had been confronting across minefields and razor wire for decades.

But the current US administration refuses to offer even the smallest smidgeon of trust to Iran, even when the verifiers - the experts at the international nuke watchdog - are verifying like mad.

Today, the AP reports that Iran is still keeping up its new-found spirit of co-operation with the IAEA:
Iran said it answered questions on its centrifuge technology during three days of talks that ended Thursday with a delegation from the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency.

The discussions were the latest attempt by the International Atomic Energy Agency to address outstanding questions on a program that many Western countries believe is cover for weapons development, but Iran insists is focused on power generation.

The official Islamic Republic News Agency reported that Iran answered all IAEA questions over its P-1 and P-2 centrifuges during the talks, headed by IAEA Deputy Director-General Olli Heinonen and Iran's deputy nuclear negotiator Javad Vaeedi.

Centrifuges are used in enriching uranium, a process that can produce either fuel for a nuclear reactor or the material for a warhead. P-2 centrifuges are more sophisticated, consuming less electricity and producing more enriched uranium.

"Tehran expects the IAEA does not bow to the pressures by some countries," and to work in a technical and legal framework, the report said, referring to calls by the U.S. and its allies for new sanctions against Iran.

The U.N. has demanded Iran suspend enrichment and has twice imposed limited sanctions for Tehran's refusal to do so.

The talks in Tehran were a continuation of the four previous rounds of talks between Iran and the IAEA, three of which were held in Tehran and one in Vienna where the IAEA is based.
Iran is now saying that it intends to continue this openness, but refuses to suspend its enrichment program, which it correctly states it has every right to pursue under the NPT.

Yet the Bush administration continue to attempt to force Iran into a violent showdown, demanding that the end result of face-to-face negotiations - ending enrichment - be a prerequisite for starting those negotiations, and indulging in mistrust not just of Iran but of the UN's own experts.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Iran of "lying" about the aim of its nuclear program, saying there's no doubt Tehran wants the capability to produce nuclear weapons and has deceived the U.N.'s atomic watchdog about its intentions.

"There is an Iranian history of obfuscation and, indeed, lying to the IAEA," she said, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency. "There is a history of Iran not answering important questions about what is going on ...," Rice said aboard her plane as she headed to Mos-cow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

U.S. officials have long accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons behind the facade of a civil atomic energy program, charges that Tehran denies. But Rice's strong words, including the blunt reference to Iranian "lying," come at a critical time in dealing with the matter.

The United States is trying to win Russian support for new U.N. sanctions against Iran but has faced sharp resistance from Moscow, which has nuclear cooperation agreements with Tehran and argues the country should be given more time to come clean on its programs.

Putin said this week there is no proof Tehran is trying to build the bomb.
And Putin is right - there isn't. Not a single shred of proof. Repeatedly over the past few years, US provided allegations of secret facilities and secret programs, usually provided by the MeK terror group as a gambit in its push to get the US to attack Iran for the MeK's benefit, have been investigated and proven false.

In other words, there isn't any proof at all that the IAEA's verifiers aren't doing their job.

If we want to talk histories, Condi, then there's a history of the Bush administration sexing up intelligence to fix it around a policy of armed, premeditated belligerence. Putin, in this case at least, is correct to say that the UNSC and the majority of the six primary negotiating nations (China, Russia, the Uk and Germany but not the US and France) feel that new sanctions calls should be put on hold to give the IAEA enough time to do its job properly. The Bushies demanded that time for Petraeus, so why not for el-Baradei? Put trust in the verifiers.

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