Friday, 16 November 2007

Mixed Reaction to IAEA Report

Iran and Washington both claim equal vindication from ElBaradei report

The latest scorecard on Iran’s nuclear programs was never going to be enough to satisfy Washington, London and Paris. And the vague language contained in Mohammed ElBaradei’s report on Thursday didn’t disappoint.

Hailed by the Iranians as a vindication of their “peaceful” nuclear program, the Security Council allies were quick to cite the report as evidence of Iran’s failure to “come clean” with the nuclear watchdog.

Original article published by Ohmynews International

Washington was particularly quick to pounce with its U.N. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad issuing statements before most people had finished reading the 10-page document.

"It is clear that Iran has not fully cooperated,” he declared at a hasty press briefing, “We believe we need to move forward with another resolution in the Security Council to impose additional sanctions on Iran.”

Khalilzad didn’t mention the part of the report that clearly stated there has been no deviation on the part of Iran to weaponize its nuclear program, and that the country has demonstrated substantial cooperation with the nuclear agency.

Taking note of Tehran’s “substantial cooperation” would have diminished Khalilzad’s next dramatic assertion that, “This is one of the most important issues that we face. The Issue of Iran’s nuclear program, because Iran is seeking regional hegemony, because Iran has ties with terrorists, and because Iran supports insurgent groups in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Scores of political analysts would likely add that the above statement would also describe the United States, perhaps substituting “nuclear program’ with “missile shield.”

The ambassador did not provide any new proof to support the allegations against Iran.

He did cite some wording in the report that suggested Iran had been responding to IAEA enquiries “actively” rather than “proactively” -- meaning that Tehran delivered everything that was asked of it, but didn’t volunteer any information that wasn’t requested.

The implication that Tehran is still trying to hide something was made very clear.

Iran’s “active” rather than “proactive” cooperation with the nuclear energy watchdog led Elbaradei to remark in his report that, “The agency’s knowledge about Iran’s current nuclear program is diminishing.”

A number of publications in the Western media have followed Khalilzad’s lead and much of their coverage has focused on the negative, paying scant attention to the bulk of ElBaradei’s generally positive report and the response made by Iranian officials.

For example, ElBaradei said Iran has made “substantial progress” and that the IAEA had been able to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran.

The report said the agency had been able to certify that Iran’s statements on its highly controversial P-1 and P-2 centrifuge programs are consistent with the finding of the agency’s inspectors.

Responding to the less favorable elements of the report, Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltaniyeh told Tehran-based PressTV, “The matter is perhaps simply explained.”

Soltaniyeh said after Iran was first sent to the Security Council over its nuclear program, many non-technical and international political bodies became involved. As a consequence, the Iranian parliament ordered the government to limit its cooperation with the IAEA and simply conform to its legal obligations under the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement.

"It means we stopped our voluntary cooperation,” he said, “we limited our cooperation to what we were legally obliged to do and that is what the [IAEA] director general is referring to.”

Soltaniyeh was saying that Iran became “active” in its sharing of information, rather than “proactive” -- that is, not offering information above and beyond its legal commitments.

Under these circumstances it is understandable that the volume of information on Iran’s nuclear program would “diminish.”

Soltaniyeh added, however, that over the past several months Iran has actually cooperated beyond its legal obligations in the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement.

He pointed out that the IAEA has confirmed that the Natanz enrichment facility is under perhaps the strictest inspection regime anywhere in the world.

"Apart from the cameras and other inspection equipment,” he said, “the facility has been subject to seven unannounced inspections by agency officials.”

The IAEA report confirmed the Natanz facility is enriching uranium to four percent, “Confirming that the plant is designed for and producing low enriched plutonium suitable only as fuel for nuclear power plants,” Soltaniyeh said.

Consequently, he said, there is no justification whatsoever for accusations of proliferation.

Natanz is home to the centrifuges so often cited in the statements of Bush administration officials and the Western media as being capable of producing weapons grade material for the production of a nuclear bomb.

Experts confirm that with such a robust inspection in place, it would be virtually impossible for the Iranians to divert any materials for a weapons program.

Responding to calls by Washington for a further round of sanctions, Soltaniyeh, pointed out that the last resolution adopted in March of this year ordered Iran to immediately cease re-processing nuclear materials.

"The IAEA has reported there is no indication of any ongoing reprocessing related activities,” Soltaniyeh said, “So this is a clear indication and proof that those resolutions have no legal and technical justification.”

Mr. ElBaradei’s report concludes, he said, that there is no reprocessing activity in Iran, “Therefore how can we be expected to suspend an activity that doesn’t exist.”

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, lashed out at countries that continue to accuse Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons. “They have offered no evidence to support their allegations,” he said, “and at the same time, these same countries possess and develop nuclear weapons themselves.”

Jalili said Tehran has consistently supported nuclear disarmament and criticized the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Author’s comment:
The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1747 adopted in March, 2007, contains the following paragraph:

"Recalling the resolution of the IAEA Board of Governors which states that a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue would contribute to global non-proliferation efforts and to realizing the objective of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, including their means of delivery.”

No UNSC resolution has ever called for Israel to open its nuclear facilities and declare its estimated 130-200 nuclear warheads.

While the IAEA did admit to gaps in its knowledge regarding Iran’s nuclear programs, according to experts, these “gaps” generally covered areas that Iran is currently under no legal obligation to report under the terms of its membership of the IAEA and as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Essentially the sanctions are based on “suspicions” that Iran may be seeking weapons of mass destruction, and not hard evidence.

According to this and earlier IAEA reports, Iran is conducting its nuclear program in an open and transparent manner and within the legal parameters of its international agreements.


For more on the IAEA report and international reaction to it, visit Iran Affairs.com

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great job. I also recommend the analysis of the IAEA Iran report at IranAffairs.com

Chris Gelken said...

Hi, thanks for the hat-tip... I have put a link on the story and a permanent link to the website on this blog.