Free Dartmouth
A Bio of El Baradei
10/10/2006 12:55:00 AM | Justin

I recently came across this bio of El Baradei in an NYU law magazine that sheds some light on the current nuclear standoff with Iran, as well as the past standoff with Iraq. Some excerpts are posted below, with my commentary:

"The [NPT] treaty provided that the IAEA could inspect a signatory’s nuclear facilities, but only those the signatory declared, leaving open the possibility of clandestine facilities...In the years since, the IAEA has added an "additional protocol" to its earlier safeguards agreements that gives the organization’s inspectors enhanced access to nuclear facilities. Thus far, 107 countries have signed the protocol, but only 74 have ratified it. (In late 2005, after the IAEA rebuked Iran for not cooperating sufficiently with inspections, Tehran announced that it would no longer act as if bound by the protocol, which it had signed but not ratified.) Efforts to strengthen the non-proliferation regime also failed at the latest five-year review conference of the NPT, which was held in New York in May 2005.
I include this because a lot of people I've spoken to about this issue, and a lot of commentators on TV, seem confused what the NPT actually says, and argue unreasonably that Iran has violated it by seeking a nuclear program. The problem is that 1) The 3rd pillar of NPT is the right of all signatory states to seek nuclear power for peaceful purposes. 2) Iran is accused of having violated NPT in 2002 by having clandestine, uninspected nuclear programs, but according to the above passage, a loophole in NPT exists that allowed clandestine, uninspected facilities. 3) An attempt was made to close this loophole through additional protocols, but a relatively small number of states ratified this protocol, and Iran was not one of them. Thus an clandestine facilities that might have been found in 2002 did not violate any international treaty. Iran is in violation of the latest UN Security resolution passed in July, but resolution had no basis in international law.

"Another is by upholding the original vision at the heart of the NPT. That is, [El Baredei] has continued to call for those NPT signatories that have nuclear weapons to adhere to the treaty’s "bargain," which requires them to reduce their arsenals and pursue the abolition of nuclear weapons, and in return, states that do not possess the weapons already, don’t develop them...Although the political elites of the nuclear powers have long rolled their collective eyes at this quid pro quo, ElBaradei has never tired of invoking it and prodding the countries that pay much of his agency’s budget—and provide it with a large amount of the intelligence that is essential to its work—to do their bit. At times he has voiced this in an acid tone, likening the nuclearweapons states to those who "continue to dangle a cigarette from their mouth and tell everybody else not to smoke." In particular, recent moves in the United States to develop a new generation of nuclear warheads have elicited his outrage. "How can the U.S., on the one and, say every country should give up their nuclear weapons and on the other develop these bunker-buster mininukes?" he asks."
Good question. Who's the most obvious violator of NPT? George W. is. With his mininukes, he's the only world leader besides Kim Jong Il, with an openly stated policy of trying to expand his nuclear arsenal. The worst thing about Bush is that he makes ideological warhawks like Il, Ahmadinejjad, and Chavez sound reasonable to the rest of the world in comparison. It's so easy for the latter two to drum up popular support in latin america and the ME when Bush is making every straw man argument they could ever need.

"One continuing concern was Iraq’s nuclearweapons program, which the IAEA inspectors believed had been fully dismantled before they were thrown out of the country in 1998. "We were pretty confident that Iraq’s nuclear program had been accounted for," Samore explains. "The only issue was the IAEA wanting to declare that the file was closed, and they wanted to shift to longterm monitoring. We didn’t want them to do that because it would add to pressure to lift sanctions." With inspectors unable to regain entry into Iraq, the issue of keeping the "nuclear file" open was not a very contentious one."

It has long baffled me, conservatives' claim that "everyone" thought Iraq had nukes, despite such clear statements to the contrary by those at the IAEA. But beyond that, this quote reveals one of the causes of confusion: IAEA officials were intentionally overstating Iraq's nuclear threat, because according to them, if they hadn't, there would have been no choice but to withdraw them, their job of disarming Iraq having been finished. In other words they lied, just to keep UN inspections going, and prevent Iraq from trying to rearm. A noble cause, no doubt, but it was precisely these lies that were twisted back at the American public by the Bush Administration later, when they were looking to construct a revisionist history of contemporary expert opinion on whether there were WMD in Iraq, and to what extent Saddam's regime had complied with inspections.

"After the tense diplomacy of late 2002, Hussein allowed teams of U.N. and IAEA inspectors to return to Iraq to search for signs of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. As everyone remembers, the inspectors found nothing to change the IAEA’s conclusion that Iraq had no nuclear-weapons program. On March 7, 2003, ElBaradei reported in sober terms to the U.N. Security Council that on the basis of inspections at 141 suspected sites, there was "no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear-weapon program in Iraq." In addition, IAEA researchers argued—as many within the U.S. intelligence community did secretly as well—that the aluminum tubes were for conventional battlefield rocket production. IAEA personnel also established that the documents that purported to show that Iraq was seeking to buy uranium in Niger were forgeries."

If only everyone did remember...

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