Friday, September 07, 2007

The IAEA Hits Back

By Cernig

The IAEA are hitting back at Bush administration allegations that they gave Iran a free pass on their recent nuclear program deal, saying that it is ludicrous to criticize the IAEA for agreeing to what the UNSC had called for.
"For the last few years, we have been told by the Security Council ... that we needed to clarify the outstanding issues," he said. "We obviously had to welcome" Tehran's decision to cooperate with the agency."

In the plan, agreed to between the two sides in July, Iran agreed to answer questions from agency experts by December on more than two decades of nuclear activity - most of it secret until revealed over four years ago.

The plan, which was made public last month, appeared to give Iran a clean bill of health on past small-scale plutonium experiments. It also noted cooperation on other issues, while specifying that Tehran still needed to satisfy the agency's curiosity about its enrichment technology and traces of highly enriched uranium at a facility linked to the military.

The plan - which forms the backbone of an IAEA report to be debated at a 35- nation board meeting of the agency that opens Monday - also said Iran agreed to study documentation from the agency on the "Green Salt Project," which the U.S. alleges links diverse components of a nuclear weapons program, including uranium enrichment, high explosives testing and a missile re-entry vehicle.

Diplomats told the AP last year that the agency was made aware of the alleged program by U.S. intelligence.
And US intelligence got their information from the MeK terror group in very dodgy circumstances. I doubt very highly that the Cheney wing are holding their breaths in anticipation of that intel being proven correct. They already know it's crap.

But more importantly, criticizing the IAEA for doing what it was asked to do is just too obvious a crock for the other UNSC members to swallow - and the IAEA are calling it what it is, with one official saying the US was mounting a "deliberate campaign to derail" Iranian-IAEA rapprochement.

Meanwhile, complex behind-the-scenes political battles in Iran itself hold out a possibility of a more accomodating response to the whole matter of Iran's nuclear program as hardliner Ahmedinejad faces competition for power.
The former President of Iran, Hashemi Rafsanjani, has called on the West to engage in talks on the nuclear issue.

His plea is in marked contrast to defiant comments made by President Ahmedinejad earlier this week.

Mr Rafsanjani has just been voted head of Iran's Assembly of Experts - one of the most influential positions in the country's political system.

His comments suggest he may use his influence to challenge the hardline approach of President Ahmedinejad.

Mr Rafsanjani assured the West that Iran was not seeking a nuclear weapon.
Faced with all of this, the Bush administration is backpedalling somewhat from it's original faux-outrage.
The United States said on Friday there was potential merit to Iran's nuclear transparency deal with U.N. inspectors, after earlier branding it a diversionary gambit to forestall tougher U.N. sanctions.

The U.S. envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency spoke after IAEA officials assured skeptical Western missions that the vaguely worded pact was not a fudge that would clean Tehran's slate, rather just a first important step toward creating confidence in Iranian nuclear intentions.

Iran is required to answer outstanding questions about past sensitive atomic activities by a rough deadline of year-end under the "work plan," which faces critical debate at a meeting of the 35-nation IAEA board of governors next week.

"The work plan outlines a potentially important process for clarifying historical questions, if Iran cooperates fully and quickly," U.S. Ambassador Gregory Schulte told several invited reporters in Vienna, headquarters of the U.N. watchdog agency.

"But the work plan is limited to historical questions. It does not provide for full (IAEA) verification of current activities or address Iran's continuing uranium-enrichment activities (in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions)."

Schulte said the IAEA board would make clear that if Iran "truly wants the world's trust, it should resolve outstanding questions, cooperate fully and unconditionally with the IAEA and they should suspend activities of international concern."

...A day after the IAEA announced the pact with Iran, calling it a "milestone," Schulte said the plan had "real limitations" and suggested Tehran had "manipulated" the IAEA into allowing it to make a play of cooperation to head off more sanctions.

His remarks angered agency officials. One said it appeared the United States, which has not ruled out last-resort attack on arch-foe Iran to knock out its nuclear facilities, was mounting a "deliberate campaign to derail" Iranian-IAEA rapprochement.

But U.N. officials have assured Western missions that counter to impressions created by the pact's woolly language, the IAEA could raise more questions if new suspicions arose after current issues were resolved.

U.N. officials further stressed that Iran could not get a clean bill of health before it allows the IAEA to resume wider-ranging inspections of sites not declared to be nuclear as the only way to verify Iran has no secret bomb program.
As they nuclear causus belli seems to be falling apart, I fully expect war-with-Iran advocates to concentrate more on Iran's backing of terrorist and insurgent groups, especially with reference to allegations of meddling in Iraq. In that respect, a judgement today by a U.S. court will doubtless be pressed into service.
Iran must pay $2.65 billion to the families of the 241 U.S. service members killed in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, a federal judge declared Friday in a ruling that left survivors and families shedding tears of joy.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth described his ruling as the largest-ever such judgment by an American court against another country. ``These individuals, whose hearts and souls were forever broken, waited patiently for nearly a quarter century for justice to be done,'' he said.

Iran has been blamed for supporting the militant group Hezbollah, which carried out the suicide bombing in Beirut. It was the worst terrorist act against U.S. targets until the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
On a practical note - this judgement is being compared to the one in which Libya agreed to pay compensation to the victims of the Lockerbie bombing but that comparison would have far more force if the judgement had been rendered by the International Court rather than by a US court which has no power beyond its own shores and will be seen as wildly partisan by many outwith the US. It's such a pity Bush decided not to ratify America's joining that court.

As regards the judgement's efficacy in further the drumbeat for war with Iran - it's unclear, logically, that an attack two decades past is any indication of current intentions but emotionally it is very persuasive. The backing of such attacks by Iran are why I've described myself as a reluctant apologist for an odious regime. Just to repeat myself:
It's a theocracy disguised with some democratic trappings, even the moderates aren't moderate at all by my usual standards and it violently represses it's own people in their free expressions of greivance or dissent. None of which are reasons to go to war with Iran rather than any number of other similiar regimes.

Yet the narratives surrounding Iran's nuclear program don't prove that Iran has done anything illegal or that it has a nuclear weapon program, let alone that it intends using nukes if it ever developed them. Ahminajad isn't a Hitler because he isn't the real leader and in any case he's term limited to 2013. Evidence for Iranian meddling in Iraq is circumstantial at best and often entirely fabricated by groups who want the US to change the Iranian regime by force so that they themselves can be the new dictators. I can't sit idly by and watch such a rush to war with Iran on false pretenses even if I do find the Iranian regime odious. So I've spoken out. I'm not always happy about it, but it's the way I tick.

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