<snip>The officials and diplomats said that the International Atomic Energy Agency under Director General Mohamed ElBaradei was refraining from publishing evidence obtained by its inspectors over the past few months that indicate Iran was pursuing information about weaponization efforts and a military nuclear program.</snip>
[Blunderov] 'Evidence' that was probably planted in the first place (Yellowcake anyone? Comes with a free laptop. Step right up). Nice work if you can get it though. Inject forged evidence into the system. If it is published and taken seriously; a win. If it is not published and not taken seriously scream censorship; also a win.
Gold? Yellow, glittering, precious gold? This yellow* slave Will knit and break religions, bless th’ accursed, Make the hoar leprosy adored, place thieves, And give them title, knee and approbation With senators on the bench. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Timon of Athens
Western officials leaked stories to the Associated Press and Reuters last week aimed at pressuring the outgoing chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, to include a summary of intelligence alleging that Iran has been actively pursuing work on nuclear weapons in the IAEA report due out this week.
The aim of the pressure for publication of the document appears to be to discredit the November 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on the Iranian nuclear program, which concluded that Iran had ended work on nuclear weapons in 2003.
The story by Reuters United Nations correspondent Louis Charbonneau reported that "several" officials from those states had said the IAEA has "credible information" suggesting that the U.S. intelligence estimate was "incorrect."
The issue of credibility of the NIE is particularly sensitive right now because the United States, Britain, France, and Germany are anticipating tough negotiations with Russia and China on Iran’s nuclear program in early September.
The two parallel stories by Charbonneau and Associated Press correspondent George Jahn in Vienna, both published Aug. 20, show how news stories based on leaks from officials with a decided agenda, without any serious effort to provide an objective historical text or investigation of their accuracy, can seriously distort an issue.
Reflecting the hostile attitude of the quartet of Western governments and Israel toward ElBaradei, the stories suggested that ElBaradei has been guilty of a cover-up in refusing to publish information he has had since last September alleging that Iran has continued to pursue research on developing nuclear weapons.
Charbonneau referred without further analysis to U.S. and Israeli accusations that ElBaradei has deliberately underplayed the case against Iran to "undermine the U.S. sanctions drive."
Jahn explained ElBaradei’s refusal to publish the intelligence summary as the result of his eagerness to "avoid moves that could harden already massive Iranian intransigence on cooperating with the agency" and his worry that it would increase the chances of a U.S. or Israeli strike on Tehran’s nuclear sites.
He also suggested ElBaradei had made "barely disguised criticisms of U.S. policy" in the past and that some of his statements on Israel and Gaza were viewed by the West as "overtly political."
In fact, however, the tensions between ElBaradei and the George W. Bush administration were directly related to ElBaradei’s public declaration in March 2003 that the documents on alleged Iraqi efforts to obtain uranium from Niger – later known as the "Niger forgeries" – were not authentic, after he received no response from Washington to an earlier private warning to the White House.
Charbonneau quoted a "senior Western diplomat" as confirming that some of the information the four Western countries want published in the coming IAEA report relate to intelligence documents concerning an alleged Iranian nuclear weapons research program, which the IAEA has referred to as "alleged studies."
What the anti-ElBaradei coalition is now demanding, as Charbonneau’s report confirms, is that ElBaradei attach a report prepared by the IAEA safeguards department, which reflects the slant of the quartet and Israel on the issue, as an "annex" to the coming report.
What AP and Reuters failed to report, however, is that there has long been a deep division within the IAEA between those who support the "alleged studies" documents, led by safeguards department chief Olli Heinonen, and those who have remained skeptical about their authenticity.
The doubts of the skeptics were reinforced, moreover, when new evidence came to light last year suggesting that some of the key documents were fabricated or doctored to support the accusation that Iran was working on nuclear weapons.
A Vienna-based diplomatic source close to the IAEA told IPS that the reason ElBaradei has never endorsed the "alleged studies" documents is that they have not met his rigorous standards of evidence.
The United States and other governments refused to give the documents to the IAEA, because ElBaradei had insisted that all the "alleged studies" documents should be shared with Iran and should be authenticated. U.S. officials, supported by Israel, argued that allowing Iran to study the documents carefully would compromise intelligence "sources and methods," according to a U.S.-based source who has been briefed on the matter.
The most important such document to be denied to the IAEA and Iran is a one-page letter from an Iranian engineering firm to an Iranian private company, Kimia Maadan, which is identified as having participated in the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons project.
The letter reportedly had handwritten notes on it referring to studies on the redesign of a missile reentry vehicle, and it is thus a primary piece of evidence for the claim that the missile reentry documents were genuine.
However, Iran turned over to the IAEA a copy of the same May 2003 letter with no handwritten notes on it, as Heinonen confirmed in a February 2008 briefing for member states.
That suggested that the copy of the letter with handwriting on it was a fabrication done by an outside intelligence agency in order to prove that Iran was working on nuclear weapons.
There were other problems with the one-page flowsheets showing a plan for a "green salt" conversion facility, which were attributed to Kima Maadan and said to be part of the military-run nuclear weapons project.
According to a Feb. 22, 2008, IAEA report, Iran submitted documentary evidence to the IAEA showing that Kimia Maadan had been created in 2000 solely to plan and construct a uranium ore processing facility under contract with Iran’s civilian atomic energy agency, and that it was in financial difficulty when it closed its doors in 2003.
The IAEA, which had been investigating whether the company was working for the Iranian military, as charged by the United States and other Western countries, declared in its February 2008 report that it "considers this question no longer outstanding at this stage."
[b]Furthermore, Iran pointed out that the flowsheets for a "green salt" conversion facility portrayed in the documents as done by Kimia Maadan have "technical errors," and IAEA safeguards director Heinonen conceded that point in his February 2008 briefing.
Questions had also been raised about the technical quality of the alleged Iranian designs for a missile reentry vehicle that was apparently aimed at accommodating a nuclear weapon. Experts at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico who ran computer simulations on the studies determined none of them would have worked, according to Washington Post investigative reporter Dafna Linzer in February 2006.
After the new information surfaced, some IAEA officials, including experts involved in the investigation, argued privately that the agency should now state publicly that it could not authenticate the documents, according to a Vienna-based source close to the IAEA.
The AP’s Jahn cited as further evidence of Iran’s intention to manufacture nuclear weapons its alleged refusal to cooperate on IAEA demands for more cameras at the Natanz enrichment facility. "Iran’s stonewalling of the agency on increased monitoring," he wrote, "has raised agency concerns that its experts might not be able to make sure that some of the enriched material produced at Natanz is not diverted for potential weapons use."
Unfortunately for that argument, however, IAEA officials revealed Aug. 20 that Iran had already agreed the previous week to allow increased IAEA monitoring of the Natanz enrichment facility through additional cameras.
Re: IAEA Again Verifies Iranian Compliance-Neo-crazy Media Sycophants Drum for W
« Reply #62 on: 2009-08-31 15:52:05 »
Israel has Iran in its sights
Unless Tehran responds to by late September to international proposals on its nuclear program, history strongly suggests the Israelis will act alone.
[ Hermit : Israel is working up a fine state of hysteria over Iran's alleged non-cooperation with the IAEA and the IAEA's "hiding" of Iranian contraventions. Their case might be more compelling, if Israel were a signatory and member of the IAEA speaking from inside the organization, rather than a rogue Apartheid state and the only nuclear armed state in the region. Meantime Israel is, even in the absence of Cheney who has now acknowledged supporting a strike on Iran, apparently planning some kind of action with the potential to set the Middle East on fire and the price of oil to new record highs. ]
Source: LA Times Authors: Micah Zenko Dated: 2009-08-31
Micah Zenko is a fellow in the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Iran has until late September to respond to the latest international proposal aimed at stopping the Islamic Republic from developing a nuclear weapon. Under the proposal, Iran would suspend its uranium enrichment program in exchange for a U.N. Security Council commitment to forgo a fourth round of economic and diplomatic sanctions. [ Hermit : This is guaranteed not to happen. Not in this timeframe and not at all. The cost of buying Chinese and Russian support for a further round of sanctions is likely to exceed even the Federal Reserve's willingness to print money. ]
But if diplomacy fails, the world should be prepared for an Israeli attack on Iran's suspected nuclear weapons facilities. As Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently acknowledged: "The window between a strike on Iran and their getting nuclear weapons is a pretty narrow window."
If Israel attempts such a high-risk and destabilizing [ Hermit : And totally illegal ] strike against Iran, President Obama will probably learn of the operation from CNN rather than the CIA. History shows that although Washington seeks influence over Israel's military operations, Israel would rather explain later than ask for approval in advance of launching preventive or preemptive attacks. Those hoping that the Obama administration will be able to pressure Israel to stand down from attacking Iran as diplomatic efforts drag on are mistaken.
The current infighting among Iran's leaders also has led some to incorrectly believe that Tehran's nuclear efforts will stall. As Friday's International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran's nuclear programs revealed, throughout the political crises of the last three months, Iran's production rate for centrifuges has remained steady, as has its ability to produce uranium hexafluoride to feed into the centrifuges. [ Hermit : This is a serious and probably deliberate mischaracterisation of what is happening. The rate of increase has, as predicted, stalled. Which is why Iran's perfectly legal, well monitored production has remained steady. ]
So let's consider four past Israeli military operations relevant to a possible strike against Iran.
In October 1956, Israel, Britain and France launched an ill-fated assault against Egypt to seize control of the Suez Canal. The day before, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles grilled Abba Eban, Israel's ambassador to the U.S., about Israel's military buildup on the border with Egypt, but Eban kept quiet about his country's plans.
In June 1967, Israel initiated the Six-Day War without notice to Washington, despite President Johnson's insistence that Israel maintain the status quo and consult with the U.S. before taking action. Only days before the war began, Johnson notified Prime Minister Levi Eshkol in a personal message: "Israel just must not take preemptive military action and thereby make itself responsible for the initiation of hostilities." [ Hermit : This is another probably deliberate mischaracterisation as Israel tried for years to maintain the fiction that it was attacked first, as in those days, not totally owning the US political process, Israel was still concerned about not being perceived as contravening the Grand Charter of the UN. ]
On June 7, 1981, Israeli fighter-bombers destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak shortly before it was to be fuelled to develop the capacity to make nuclear weapons-grade plutonium. Again, Washington was not informed in advance. President Reagan "condemned" the attack and "thought that there were other options that might have been considered." [ Hermit : Again a likely deliberate mischaracterisation this time through omission, as Israel was condemned by the world, including the USA, in a security council resolution condemning Israel's serious breach of International law. It was the lack of further effective action due to the war between Iraq and Iran (where Israel and the US supplied both sides) that persuaded Israel that it had sufficient control of the US Administration and House that it needn't consider possible repercussions. An opinion validated when Bush offended Israel in 1992 and where the consequent AIPAC support for Clinton resulted in a massive loss for the Republicans. ]
A few days later, Prime Minister Menachem Begin told CBS News: "This attack will be a precedent for every future government in Israel. ... Every future Israeli prime minister will act, in similar circumstances, in the same way."
Begin's prediction proved true on Sept. 6, 2007, when Israeli aircraft destroyed what was believed to be a North Korean-supplied plutonium reactor in Al Kibar, Syria. Four months earlier, Israeli intelligence officials had provided damning evidence to the Bush administration about the reactor, and the Pentagon drew up plans to attack it. Ironically, according to New York Times reporter David Sanger, President Bush ultimately decided the U.S. could not bomb another country for allegedly possessing weapons of mass destruction. An administration official noted that Israel's attack went forward "without a green light from us. None was asked for, none was given." [ Hermit : And what nobody is mentioning is that the IAEA has repeatedly condemned Israel for its illegal actions and rogue attack which prevented an investigation and leaves the suspicion that Israel may have salted the area with nucleides. ]
These episodes demonstrate that if Israel decides that Iranian nuclear weapons are an existential threat, it will be deaf to entreaties from U.S. officials to refrain from using military force. Soon after the operation, Washington will express concern to Tel Aviv publicly and privately. The long-standing U.S.-Israeli relationship will remain as strong as ever with continued close diplomatic, economic, intelligence and military cooperation. [ Hermit : Until the US decides that supporting yet another brutal apartheid state with its dwindling finances, prestige and capacity is not something it should be doing. It is my opinion that at this point Israel has made this inevitable. ]
Should Tehran prove unwilling to meet the September deadline and bargain away its growing and latent nuclear weapon capability, we can expect an Israeli attack that does not require U.S. permission, or even a warning. [ Hermit : And the inevitable response - and effect on International law, the global economy and stability; the recognition that even bombing Tehran off the map will not significantly affect Iran's ability to reconstitute its programs, but may well lead to its withdrawal from the NPT, the members of which are ignoring Israel's excesses, and possibly a decision that a preventive nuclear capacity is required to defend itself effectively. The question is how much more Israel can get away with before the world says, "enough?" ]
As nuclear negotiations between Iran and the West continue to move slowly, U.S. President Barack Obama is coming under growing pressure from what appears to be a concerted lobbying and media campaign urging him to act more aggressively to stop Iran’s nuclear program.
Obama has given Tehran an end-of-September deadline to respond substantively to his offer of diplomatic engagement. But already hawks in the U.S. – backed by hardline pro-Israel organizations – have pressed him to quickly impose "crippling" economic sanctions against Tehran, and some are arguing that he should make preparations for a military attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. [ There is no end out of this tunnel should "crippling economic sanctions" be instituted as that would merely constitute another escalation to which there is no exit except negotiations or war. Each escalation introduced (and so far the situation has only been escalated) reduces the degree of accord and thus probability that negotiations could succeed.
The pressure campaign kicked off in earnest this week. On Thursday, hundreds of leaders and activists from the U.S. Jewish community descended on Washington to lobby for harsher sanctions, while widely-publicized media reports suggested that Iran is already nearing the verge of a nuclear capability. [i] [ Hermit : carefully confusing nuclear capability, as in nuclear power, Iran's right, guaranteed by their membership of the NPT, with nuclear weapon's capability, like Israel's, incompatible with membershiop of the NPT. ]
Leaders from Jewish groups came for a national "Advocacy Day on Iran," during which they met with key Congressional figures.
Rep. Howard Berman, a California Democrat who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee, suggested that the clock "has almost run out" on Iran’s nuclear program, and indicated that he would move ahead next month with a bill imposing sanctions on Iran’s refined petroleum imports "absent some compelling evidence why I should do otherwise."
The bill, the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (IRPSA), has for months been the top lobbying priority of hawkish pro-Israel lobbying groups led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). To their frustration, Berman has held up consideration of the bill for most of the past year
Not all U.S. Jewish groups are lining up behind the legislation, however.
Americans for Peace Now (APN), for instance, issued a statement arguing that "arbitrary deadlines are a mistake" and that "pursuing sanctions that target the Iranian people, rather than their leaders, is a morally and strategically perilous path that the Obama Administration must reject."
M.J. Rosenberg, a foreign policy analyst at Media Matters Action Network, suggested on the website TPMCafe that the advocacy day "marks the start of the fall push on Iran."
The advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) has launched an intensive television advertising campaign this month claiming that the U.S. "must isolate Iran economically to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon."
UANI’s two co-founders are now both high-ranking officials in the Obama administration – Dennis Ross, currently overseeing Iran policy at the National Security Council (NSC), and Richard Holbrooke, now the State Department special representative in charge of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Also on Thursday, the New York Times published a front-page story claiming that U.S. intelligence agencies believe "that Iran has created enough nuclear fuel to make a rapid, if risky, sprint for a nuclear weapon," although the article did not provide an estimate of when Iran could have a nuclear capability.
The same day, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by former Senators Charles Robb and Daniel Coats and retired four-star Air Force General Chuck Wald. Claiming that Iran "will be able to manufacture enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon in 2010," the authors urged Obama "to begin preparations for the use of military options" against Iran. [ Hermit : Schussing down the slippery slopes, greased, as they were for the Iraq war, by the nest of Zionists occupying the New York Times (and Washington Post for that matter). ]
However, official U.S. intelligence estimates provide a far slower timeline. In February, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dennis Blair told Congress that Iran would be unable to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU) until at least 2013, and stated that there is "no evidence" that Iran had even made a decision to produce HEU.
Iran insists that its nuclear program is intended solely for civilian purposes. In 2007, the U.S. intelligence community released a National Intelligence Estimate suggesting that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. [ Hermit : This is in fact incorrect. The NIE stated only that Iran had ceased its clandestine nuclear programs in 2003. It is an assertion, never supported by any evidence, that the clandestine programs were military. Iran has always insisted, and the IAEA has accepted that the programs were peaceful and existed only to prevent illegal (in terms of the NPT) American interference with Iran's nuclear programs, and the IAEA has certified that no nuclear material has ever been diverted from Iran's civilian programs. As a nuclear program without nuclear material is an oxymoron, it would seem that American/Israeli statements about Iran's supposed nuclear weapons programs are utterly baseless. The fact that Iran is again strongly advocating the removal of nuclear weapons from the region and the world again speaks to their intent. It would be devastating to their position were any credible evidence of an Iranian nuclear program to arise. But in the 40 years since the Iranian revolution, no such evidence has been presented despite many enemies diligently seeking even a sniff of one and indeed the presentation of repeated fabrications which would not have been required were there any such evidence. Which suggests that Iran is the honest party at this table. ]
The campaign comes on the eve of a series of key international meetings in late September, including the annual opening of the U.N. General Assembly in New York and the Group of 20 (G20) Summit in Pittsburgh.
Iran and its nuclear program are expected to be a major topic for world leaders who will attend these meetings, and hawks in Washington and Jerusalem hope that Obama will use them to push for the imposition of far-reaching economic sanctions by the U.N. Security Council as soon as possible. [ Hermit : Given America's fundamental inability to buy off other parties, Russia's recalcitrance to attack Iran, even though they would prefer Iran to buy fuel from the CIS, and China's annoyance with America's habit of borrowing money while undermining Chinese interests, suggests that another round of sanctions will be very difficult to put together. ]
While Obama faces pressure to move quickly to sanctions, the government of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is still struggling at home to overcome challenges to its legitimacy resulting from the disputed presidential election in June. Many analysts suggest that Iran’s government is currently in no position to respond coherently to U.S. engagement. [ Hermit : This may have some truth to it, but Iran definitely have issued some proposals that Russia and the P5 + Germany have agreed to discuss. Infra. ]
This week, Ahmadinejad’s government finally issued a formal reply to proposals by the P5+1 powers — the U.S., China, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany — for talks on its nuclear program and related issues.
But the five-page-reply has been deemed too vague by Washington, with State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley dismissing it Thursday as "not really responsive" to U.S. concerns. [ Hermit : America appears to be in the process of being dragged to the negotiating table. Infra. ]
Other analysts suggested that the Iranian proposal was more promising than initial media reports would indicate.
"Iran’s uncompromising stance and its cursory references to nuclear matters are most likely an opening bid, and not a red line," wrote National Iranian American Council (NIAC) president Trita Parsi in the Huffington Post.
He suggests that the proposal’s language "may offer an opening to push strongly for transparency and acceptance of intrusive inspections and verification mechanisms."
The Obama administration, however, continues to hold out hope for the engagement strategy.
"We’ll be looking to see how ready Iran is to actually engage, and we will be testing that willingness to engage in the next few weeks," Crowley said.
At the same time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov all but ruled out his country’s cooperation with new sanctions against Tehran at the Security Council, and called instead for renewed negotiations based on Iran’s reply.
Lavrov’s comments came shortly after a secret and still-mysterious visit to Russia by Israel’s right-wing prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. [ Hermit : Israel has been doing its best to tie supplies of military equipment, including armed RPVs which Russia realized it requires after the Georgia debacle, especially if this turns into a shooting war with US supported forces, as well as transfers of US military technology to the CIS, and arms orders from the CIS to the CIS not fulfilling its (already paid for) reactor and missile defence systems to Iran. This was almost certainly another such visit, linking US dollar denominated orders on Russian military materiel suppliers, financed by the USA, to attempt to cripple Iran's defensive capability (and ground to air missiles and anti-ship missiles, both supposed to have been supplied to Iran by the CIS, are purely defensive technologies). ]
The latest developments — along with growing amount of attention being paid to U.S. policy in Afghanistan, at the expense of Iran — have only added to the frustration of Iran hawks in Washington. They believe increasingly that economic sanctions alone, even if they are imposed multilaterally, are unlikely to be enough to persuade Tehran to halt what they see as its drive to obtain a nuclear weapon. [ Hermit : So long as the US maintains large forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, any attack on Iran is likely to be extremely counter-productive. So far the cost of the USA's middle eastern Vietnam has been limited, due to the fact that it has total air dominance, and its opponents have had limited access to supplies. This could easily change, and Iran does manufacture man-portable anti-aircraft systems. ]
For this reason, many suggest that the U.S. should either make preparations to attack Iran militarily itself, or step aside and allow Israel to do so. [ Hermit : I'm not sure what the alleged "reason" was? "Because the hawks are frustrated" is not a reason to do anything, neither is it new. ]
"No one should believe that tighter sanctions will, in the foreseeable future, have any impact on Iran’s nuclear weapons program," former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, a noted hardliner, wrote in the Wall Street Journal last month. "Adopting tougher economic sanctions is simply another detour away from hard decisions on whether to accept a nuclear Iran or support using force to prevent it." [ Hermit : And when recourse must be had to "Bonkers Bolton" and his logical fallacies, this time a pretty false dichotomy, then you know that the bottom of the barrel is being scraped in search of a justification. ]
Earlier that month, the Journal featured an article by Gen. Wald — who was one of the co-authors of Thursday’s op-ed urging preparations for a military strike — entitled "Of Course There’s a Military Option on Iran." [ Hermit : Only if you do not care about the outcome and are prepared to accept the potential costs. Which are not being addressed by these lunatics. ]
But critics suggest that the constant threats of military action against Tehran will only make the regime’s leadership more intransigent on the nuclear issue. [ Hermit : Well, duh! ]
"Pointing a gun at their heads merely reinforces their desire for a reliable deterrent, and probably strengthens the hand of any Iranian officials who think they ought to get a bomb as soon as possible," wrote Stephen Walt, a professor of international relations at Harvard University, on the website of Foreign Policy magazine. [ Hermit : Stephen Walt knows an awful lot about the Israelis, but maybe less about Iran. Even after Saudi Arabia obtained a nuclear option via Pakistan (whose program was paid for by Saudi Arabia), and which possibly holds a number of disassembled cores, I have seen no evidence or statements suggesting that Iran seeks nuclear weapons. Only evidence to the contrary. While we know that those screaming loudest about this do have biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, as well as the means to deliver them, are not members of the NPT and have no inspections of their nuclear facilities at all, let alone inspections sufficient to prove that no civersion is occurring. Which, according to the IAEA's latest report, Iran provides. Finally Israel is likely to become ever less stable, and at some time in the near future will probably decide that the USA and Europe are its enemies. Israel, unlike Iran, has a long history of blackmailing, and failing that attacking, anyone with whom they have a disagreement, even when they are allegedly friends. Do we really want Israel to be in a position to nuke either or both the US and Europe out of existence? ]
With no hope of getting new international sanctions, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley now says Iran’s lack of willingness to suspend uranium enrichment is not a reason to refuse its offer of talks. Yet it seems likely that the Obama Administration, which has been reacting increasingly negatively to the prospect of talks with Iran, is at best an unwilling partner in the international talks.
The International Atomic Energy Agency says its present objective regarding Iran is to try to determine whether the intelligence documents purportedly showing a covert Iranian nuclear weapons program from 2001 to 2003 are authentic or not. The problem, according to its reports, is that Iran refuses to help clarify the issue.
But the IAEA has refused to acknowledge publicly significant evidence brought to its attention by Iran that the documents were fabricated, and it has made little, if any, effort to test the authenticity of the intelligence documents or to question officials of the governments holding them, IPS has learned.
The agency has strongly suggested in its published reports that the documentation it is supposed to be investigating is credible, because it "appears to have been derived from multiple sources over different periods of time, is detailed in content, and appears to be generally consistent."
IAEA Safeguard Department chief Olli Heinonen signaled his de facto acceptance of the "alleged studies" documents when he presented an organizational chart of the purported secret nuclear weapons project based on the documents at a February 2008 "technical briefing" for member states.
Meanwhile, the IAEA has portrayed Iran as failing to respond adequately to the "substance" of the documents, asserting that it has focused only on their "style and format of presentation."
In fact, however, Iran has submitted serious evidence that the documents are fraudulent. Iran’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Vienna, Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told IPS in an interview he had pointed out to a team of IAEA officials in a meeting on the documents in Tehran in spring 2008 that none of the supposedly top-secret military documents had any security markings of any kind, and that purported letters from Defense Ministry officials lacked Iranian government seals.
Soltanieh recalled that he had made the same point "many times" in meetings of the Board of Governors since then. "No one ever challenged me," said the ambassador.
The IAEA has never publicly acknowledged the problem of lack of security markings or official seals in the documents, omitting mention of the Iranian complaint on that issue from its reports. Its May 26, 2008, report said only that Iran had "stated, inter alia, that the documents were not complete and that their structure varied."
But a senior official of the agency familiar with the Iran investigation, who spoke with IPS on the condition that he would not be identified, confirmed that Soltanieh had indeed pointed out the lack of any security classification markings, and that he had been correct in doing so.
The "alleged studies" documents include purported correspondence between the overall "project leader" in Iran’s Defense Ministry and project heads on what would have been among the regime’s most sensitive military secrets.
Even though the official conceded that the lack of security markings could be considered damaging to the credibility of the documents, he defended the agency’s refusal to acknowledge the issue.
"It’s not a killer argument," said the official.
The official suggested that the states that had provided the documents might claim that they had taken the markings out before passing them on to the IAEA. It is not clear, however, why an intelligence agency would want to remove from the documents markings that would be important in proving their authenticity.
"We don’t know whether the original letters were marked confidential or not," he said, indicating that the IAEA had not questioned the United States and other states contributing documents on the absence of the confidential markings.
The IAEA’s apparent lack of concern about the absence of security markings and seals on the documents contrasts sharply with the IAEA’s investigation of the Niger uranium documents cited by the George W. Bush administration as justification for invading Iraq in 2002-2003.
In the Niger case, the agency concluded that the documents were fabricated based on a comparison of the "form, format, contents, and signature" of the documents with other relevant correspondence, according to IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei’s March 7, 2003, statement to the UN Security Council.
Iran has also provided the IAEA with evidence that the handwritten notes on a May 2003 letter, which supposedly link a private Iranian contractor to the "alleged studies," were forged by an outside agency. The letter was from an engineering firm to the private company Kimia Maadan, which other documents in the collection identify as responsible for part of the alleged covert nuclear weapons program called the "green salt project."
The letter itself has nothing to do with any "green salt" project, but handwritten notes on the copy of the letter given to the IAEA by an unidentified government referred to individuals who are named in other intelligence documents as participants in the "alleged studies," according to the latest IAEA report.
But the original letter, which Iran has provided to the IAEA, has no handwritten notes on it. Ambassador Soltanieh recalled that he showed that original letter to an IAEA team led by the deputy director of IAEA’s Safeguards Department, Herman Nackaerts, in Tehran Jan. 22-23, 2008.
He said the IAEA team was able to compare the original document with the copy that they had been given as part of the alleged studies documents and that Nackaerts declared that his team accepted the authenticity of the original they were shown.
The IAEA confirmed in its Aug. 28, 2009, report that it had been given access to the original letter. But the report suggested that the existence of the original letter supports the authenticity of the alleged studies documents, because it "demonstrates a direct link between the relevant documentation and Iran."
That argument appears to have deliberately conflated the original letter, which the agency admits has nothing to do with the alleged studies, and the copy with the allegedly incriminating handwritten notes on it.
The senior official sought to discredit the original letter by suggesting that the Iranians might have "whited out the handwritten notes." But the official then offered an alternative theory, asserting that there were two original letters, one of which was kept by the sender, and that the handwritten notes had been found on the second original.
But the IAEA could have checked with the engineering firm that sent the letter to ascertain whether a second original exists and whether the Iranian government had obtained the letter from it.
The senior IAEA official gave no indication that the IAEA had done so.
Iranian officials have also claimed other inaccuracies in the documents, involving technical flaws and names of individuals who they say do not exist.
The IAEA has not referred in its reports to any specific efforts to subject the "alleged studies" documents to forensic tests or to get data about such tests from governments holding the documents.
The senior IAEA official recalled that Washington Post reporter Dafna Linzer had written that the documents had been sent to three different labs, and that two had said they were credible, whereas the third had expressed doubt about their authenticity.
But Linzer’s February 2006 story reported only that the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico had run computer simulations on the studies of a Shahab-3 reentry vehicle – which suggested that they were aimed at accommodating a nuclear weapon – and had concluded that none of the plans would have worked.
Contacted by phone last week, Linzer, now a senior reporter for the public interest journalism organization Pro Publica, told IPS she had never reported that two other labs ran tests on the documents.
Linzer expressed doubt that any other national labs would have had the capabilities to do the kind of tests carried out at Sandia labs.
When asked if the IAEA had sought to obtain the Sandia simulation results, the official refused to comment, except to say, "Our people follow up."
Re: IAEA Again Verifies Iranian Compliance-Neo-crazy Media Sycophants Drum for W
« Reply #66 on: 2009-09-16 15:43:33 »
Russian President hints at U-turn over Iran sanctions
Source: The Times Authors: Richard Beeston (Moscow) Dated: 2009-09-16
President Medvedev gave the first hint yesterday that Russia was prepared to perform a significant policy U-turn and support US moves for sanctions against Iran.
Speaking in Moscow, the Russian leader went out of his way to be more conciliatory with the West before his visit this month to the US where he will attend the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York and the G20 summit of economic powers in Pittsburgh. A key issue on the agenda will be efforts by America, Britain and France to impose economic sanctions against Tehran if the regime does not agree to curb its nuclear programme. [ Hermit : Translation, Russia urgently requires access to foreign capital and seeks to prevent the USA putting a spoke in their wheels unless they support sanctions against Iran. Russia will almost certainly use the USA's desire for these sanctions to further isolate Georgia and might even decide that they can trade sanctions against Iran for the US withdrawing its support for the Ukraine and Georgia's ascension to NATO. My own feeling is that if the US offers this, and it might,given the fact that their support for this is already in breach of a deal made in the early 90s, that the USA will ultimately renegade again. Russia knows this and would definitely look for guarantees which would make any such deal challenging to implement. The situation has the potential to become even more interesting, because if Israel or the US ends up attacking Iran, Iran will mine the Strait of Hormuz and the price of oil will soar, vastly increasing Russia's foreign income. Either way, Israel will be the primary beneficiary of these deals, and Russia the secondary.]
It is widely expected that President Ahmadinejad of Iran, who will also be in New York, will reject any pressure from the international community. Russia has previously refused to support the imposition of sanctions on Iran, not least because it enjoys strong trade relations with the country.
But yesterday Mr Medvedev said: "Sanctions are not very effective on the whole, but sometimes you have to embark on sanctions and they can be right."
His remarks contradicted his Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, who last week ruled out sanctions. The possibility of a U-turn will come as a huge relief to Western diplomats who had largely given up on Russia supporting them. Trade sanctions against Iran would need the support of all five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, Britain, China, France and Russia. If Russia joined the Western nations, Beijing would be expected to drop its objections.
Reaching an international consensus on Iran is seen by many as the only way to force the regime into serious negotiations and avoid the threat of a unilateral military strike by Israel against Iranian nuclear facilities before the country can build its first atomic bomb. [ Hermit : Here is the fundamental flaw. In order to prevent a rogue nation, possessed of an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them, and one of the three non-signatories to the non-proliferation treaty from illegally attacking a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty, which has repeatedly stated it does not have and does not seek nuclear weapons and for which no credible evidence exists that they seek nuclear weapons, the world should institute sanctions against the NPT member, Iran, rather than condemning Israel and the USA for their breaches of the NPT! How fucked up is this?
Mr Medvedev appeared relaxed and more confident about his leadership when he met journalists and academics of the Valdai Discussion Club at the GUM department store in Moscow next to the Kremlin. At the same meeting last year, in the aftermath of Russia’s war with Georgia, he seemed far more edgy, particularly when asked who was really running Russia, him or Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister.
Last week Mr Medvedev set out an ambitious programme of reforms through which he hopes to stamp out corruption, break Russia’s dependency on energy exports and modernise a country still overshadowed by the legacy of Soviet rule.
The Russian leader said that other reformers before him had tried and failed but that he was confident that the country was ready to be dragged into the 21st century. He said: "I don't think we can achieve tangible results in one or two years. We could get results in 15 years."
He went on to liken the campaign to the eradication of illiteracy in Russia, one of the great achievements of Communist rule.
The reference to such a long project suggested strongly that Mr Medvedev would like to stay on as president for another term when his mandate expires in 2012.
However that could bring him into direct conflict with Mr Putin who hinted only last week that he would like to return to the Kremlin as president possibly for two terms of six years until 2024.
The relationship between the two leaders is a constant source of debate for modern Kremlinologists. It is widely accepted that Mr Putin remains in charge of the day-to-day running of Russia even though he holds the number two job. [ Hermit : This ignores the fact that Medvedev is Putin's protege' and any perceived disagreements are quite likely a component of a deliberate policy of sewing confusion. ]
Yesterday Mr Medvedev tried to play down talk of differences in the partnership. "We are a good team. We speak the same language. That is what matters. We have our differences but that is normal," he said.
The vote narrowly passed, 49-45, and was generally opposed by Western nations while being supported by UN Security Council permanent members Russia and China, as well as most of the nations in the Middle East.
Canada went one step further, trying to block the vote entirely and condemning it as “unbalanced.” Votes on similar resolutions had been successfully blocked in 2007 and 2008, but this year’s attempt at blocking it failed.
Re: IAEA Again Verifies Iranian Compliance-Neo-crazy Media Sycophants Drum for W
« Reply #68 on: 2009-09-21 12:20:05 »
Polish Missile Joke Revisited
[ Hermit : Another wide ranging gem from Jeff Huber. ]
Source: Antiwar.com Authors: Jeff Huber Dated: 2009-09-21
This Polish missile-defense system walks into a bar at noon and says, "Give me six shots of vodka."
"How can you afford to get drunk in the middle of a business day?" the bartender asks.
"Easy," the Polish missile-defense system replies. "I don’t work."
There’s a good reason nobody ever accused John McCain of being overly bright. His reaction to the Obama administration’s decision to cancel the Polish missile-defense system that doesn’t work was proof positive that McCain, as well as the rest of the right-wing warmongery, is dumber than a quarry.
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) said, "The president has disgraced this nation by breaking his word to loyal and courageous allies in the Czech Republic and Poland." Obama didn’t break his word. The "word" on the missile-defense deal with the Czechs and the Poles actually came from George W. Bush, and it was a bad idea.
John Boehner, the insentient Republican representative from Ohio’s eighth district, said, "Scrapping the U.S. missile-defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic does little more than empower Russia and Iran at the expense of our allies in Europe." It actually helps our allies in Europe.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said, “This is going to be seen as a capitulation to the Russians." It actually caused the Russians to capitulate to us.
Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut said Obama’s decision means we will have a "less capable missile-defense system to protect the United States and our European allies against the Iranian threat." We’ll actually have a more capable missile system to protect our European allies.
McCain said the decision "calls into question the security and diplomatic commitments the United States has made to Poland and the Czech Republic." The Obama decision actually gives far more diplomatic and security commitment to the Czechoslovakia and Poland than the half-baked Bush plan.
The scheme Bush promised to Poland and Czechoslovakia was the mid-course interceptor system, one that genuine experts (as opposed to Franks and McCain and Lieberman and so on) say will never work. Philip Coyle, who used to oversee weapons testing at the Pentagon and is now a specialist with the Center for Defense Information, told a congressional panel, “National missile defense has become a theology in the United States, not a technology. As a result, U.S. missile defenses are being deployed without well-established operational criteria.”
Dr. Richard Garwin, a physicist who has been a longtime adviser to the government on nuclear weapons, told Congress, “Should a state be so misguided as to attempt to deliver nuclear weapons by ICBM, they could be guaranteed against intercept in midcourse by the use of appropriate countermeasures.”
The Obama administration has instead offered Poland and Czechoslovakia the SM-3 missile system, which is designed to kill a ballistic missile in its terminal flight phase. This is the missile system that defense contractor Raytheon is developing for sale to Israel. The SM-3 could reasonably be expected to protect much of Europe from missiles launched by Iran. The SM-3 substitute is the smartest move the Obama administration could possibly have made. [ Hermit : Credit where credit is due, I totally agree with this analysis. Please don't faint Mo. ]
That’s assuming that Iran actually has missiles it will put nuclear warheads on and launch at Europe, which is a false assumption. Iran would never launch nukes at a major power or a friend of the U.S. If they had the nukes to launch (which they don’t have and most likely never will have).
Obama has, in fact, made good on the bad promise made to the Czechs and Poles by George W. Bush, even though it’s a promise nobody had to make.
Hopefully, Obama will be able to undo the damage the Bushniks did in our relations with Iran. Dick Cheney’s mob accused Iran of everything from arming Shi’ite militias in Iraq to seeking nuclear weapons to destroy Israel. They never proved any of these allegations, yet they managed to pollute the information environment so thoroughly that many Americans actually believe that poor Iran, a nation whose defense budget is less than one percent of ours [ Hermit : And this is just compared to our defence budget and excludes our massive war spending, secret discretionary, espionage and other black-ops funding ] , is the country that presents our greatest "challenge." We should all have such challenges. With enemies like Iran, who needs friends?
In 2003, shortly after the staged fall of Saddam Hussein’s statue, a two-page fax arrived at the State Department. As the Washington Post reported, "It was a proposal from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States, and the fax suggested everything was on the table – including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel, and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups."
The Bush administration blew the proposal off, then established the "make them an offer they can’t accept" policy by demanding that Iran cease all uranium refinement before talks could take place. The UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty guarantees Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes as an "inalienable right." Iran will not give up the right, nor should they. Developing and independent nuclear energy industry is just the strategic move they need to make to emerge as a regional Middle Eastern power in the post-peak oil age.
The Obama administration has, at long last, dropped the ludicrous precondition to direct talks with Iran, and a summit will take place with the Persian country and the six-nation UN group of France, Britain, Russia, China, the United States, and Germany. Foreign policy chief of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Bagheri says the package involves "settling problems such as terrorism, drug trafficking, and environmental concerns.” The package also proposes to address nuclear proliferation issues.
It’s a shame that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is such a knothead. I can’t tell if he was trying to look tough to the Muslim world or just had a craving for the taste of his foot, but he timing of his latest Holocaust denial was the kind of political stupidity one grew to expect from George W. Bush. [ Hermit : I'm going to hold off forming an opinion on this till one of the better Farsi speakers/arabists looks at it in context. On every previous occasion,I have investigated when Ahmadinejad was accused of "holocaust denial" he has been objecting to the linkage of the holocaust to the establishment of Israel and the suppression of research into the Holocaust. ] Here’s hoping the major powers can cope with Ahmadinejad better than they coped with Bush, and will be able to inject some sanity into the Iran situation come October.
Russia has harshly criticized Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial and announced that it will scrap plans to deploy Iskander missiles near the Polish border. Since the Iskander is only a short- to medium-range missile that would only have been a threat to Poland, Obama’s decision to reverse Bush’s misguided commitment actually makes Poland safer. Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin called Obama’s decision a ”victory of reason over ambitions.”
It was indeed a victory of reason. I’m starting to think that Obama may yet get America’s rabid militarism under control and end the madness spawned by the Bush/Cheney administration. [ Hermit : This maybe going to far. So far I see a lot of tokenism but larger budgets and greater commitment to military adventures than under Bush, making Obama's first year little different from Bush's ninth, only the anti-war protesters seem to have forgotten what they were protesting about. ]
Re: IAEA Again Verifies Iranian Compliance-Neo-crazy Media Sycophants Drum for W
« Reply #69 on: 2009-09-26 00:36:34 »
As Required, Iran Informs IAEA About New Enrichment Site
Western Furore Over 'Secret' Facility Despite No Apparent Illegality
[ Hermit : Something that seems to have been completely missed is that this not only removed the ability for the French/Americans to "suddenly" reveal this perfectly legal development, but it also makes any military attack pointless. In otherwords, like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's rather remarkable speech (which contains none of the hysteria, anti-Israel, holocaust denial he is repeatedly accused of by the MSM) to the UN, Iran appears to have taken the wind from the sails of the Israeli/American alliance, revealing their bullying bluster for what it is. A desperately biased denial of the "fundamental rights" Iran has under the NPT by the two countries most guilty of invalidating the NPT. ]
Source: Antiwar.com Authors: Jason Ditz Dated: 2009-09-25
Several officials used the revelation as a call to action against the Iranian government, just days before six-party talks with the nation about its civilian nuclear program. But despite a flurry of claims that the West had uncovered the “secret” facility it seems unclear that Iran actually did anything wrong.
The IAEA only actually requires that it be informed six months before an enrichment facility comes online, and the new site is at least that far from completion. Nuclear material has not been added, and the IAEA says that the data they’ve been given suggests that as with the existing Nanatz facility, the new site is only designed to enrich uranium to 5%, useful for energy production at the nation’s Bushehr power plant but not for military purposes.
Western leaders are now demanding that UN inspectors be given access to the new site. Such a demand would be seemingly reasonable, if Iran hadn’t already promised to do so days ago to the IAEA and publicly said hours before the “demands” that they have every intention of doing so.
If anything the revelation coming from Iran is inopportune for the US in pressing sanctions on the nation, as they had reportedly known about the construction for “a few years” and were planning to use the revelation to spur their call for “crippling” sactions when they discovered that Iran had already told the IAEA, as required.
Juan Cole is President of the Global Americana Institute
Thursday is a fateful day for the world, as the US, other members of the United Nations Security Council, and Germany meet in Geneva with Iran in a bid to resolve outstanding issues. Although Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had earlier attempted to put the nuclear issue off the bargaining table, this rhetorical flourish was a mere opening gambit and nuclear issues will certainly dominate the talks. As Henry Kissinger pointed out, these talks are just beginning and there are highly unlikely to be any breakthroughs for a very long time. Diplomacy is a marathon, not a sprint.
But on this occasion, I thought I'd take the opportunity to list some things that people tend to think they know about Iran, but for which the evidence is shaky.
Belief: Iran is aggressive and has threatened to attack Israel, its neighbors or the US
Reality: Iran has not launched an aggressive war modern history (unlike the US or Israel), and its leaders have a doctrine of "no first strike." This is true of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, as well as of Revolutionary Guards commanders.
Belief: Iran is a militarized society bristling with dangerous weapons and a growing threat to world peace.
Reality: Iran's military budget is a little over $6 billion annually. Sweden, Singapore and Greece all have larger military budgets. Moreover, Iran is a country of 70 million, so that its per capita spending on defense is tiny compared to these others, since they are much smaller countries with regard to population. Iran spends less per capita on its military than any other country in the Persian Gulf region with the exception of the United Arab Emirates.
Belief: Iran has threatened to attack Israel militarily and to "wipe it off the map."
Reality: No Iranian leader in the executive has threatened an aggressive act of war on Israel, since this would contradict the doctrine of 'no first strike' to which the country has adhered. The Iranian president has explicitly said that Iran is not a threat to any country, including Israel.
Belief: But didn't President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threaten to 'wipe Israel off the map?'
Reality: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did quote Ayatollah Khomeini to the effect that "this Occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time" (in rezhim-e eshghalgar-i Qods bayad as safheh-e ruzgar mahv shavad). This was not a pledge to roll tanks and invade or to launch missiles, however. It is the expression of a hope that the regime will collapse, just as the Soviet Union did. It is not a threat to kill anyone at all.
Belief: But aren't Iranians Holocaust deniers?
Actuality: Some are, some aren't. Former president Mohammad Khatami has castigated Ahmadinejad for questioning the full extent of the Holocaust, which he called "the crime of Nazism." Many educated Iranians in the regime are perfectly aware of the horrors of the Holocaust. In any case, despite what propagandists imply, neither Holocaust denial (as wicked as that is) nor calling Israel names is the same thing as pledging to attack it militarily.
Belief: Iran is like North Korea in having an active nuclear weapons program, and is the same sort of threat to the world.
Actuality: Iran has a nuclear enrichment site at Natanz near Isfahan where it says it is trying to produce fuel for future civilian nuclear reactors to generate electricity. All Iranian leaders deny that this site is for weapons production, and the International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly inspected it and found no weapons program. Iran is not being completely transparent, generating some doubts, but all the evidence the IAEA and the CIA can gather points to there not being a weapons program. The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate by 16 US intelligence agencies, including the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency, assessed with fair confidence that Iran has no nuclear weapons research program. This assessment was based on debriefings of defecting nuclear scientists, as well as on the documents they brought out, in addition to US signals intelligence from Iran. While Germany, Israel and recently the UK intelligence is more suspicious of Iranian intentions, all of them were badly wrong about Iraq's alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction and Germany in particular was taken in by Curveball, a drunk Iraqi braggart.
Belief: The West recently discovered a secret Iranian nuclear weapons plant in a mountain near Qom.
Actuality: Iran announced Monday a week ago to the International Atomic Energy Agency that it had begun work on a second, civilian nuclear enrichment facility near Qom. There are no nuclear materials at the site and it has not gone hot, so technically Iran is not in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, though it did break its word to the IAEA that it would immediately inform the UN of any work on a new facility. Iran has pledged to allow the site to be inspected regularly by the IAEA, and if it honors the pledge, as it largely has at the Natanz plant, then Iran cannot produce nuclear weapons at the site, since that would be detected by the inspectors. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted on Sunday that Iran could not produce nuclear weapons at Natanz precisely because it is being inspected. Yet American hawks have repeatedly demanded a strike on Natanz.
Belief: The world should sanction Iran not only because of its nuclear enrichment research program but also because the current regime stole June's presidential election and brutally repressed the subsequent demonstrations.
Actuality: Iran's reform movement is dead set against increased sanctions on Iran, which likely would not affect the regime, and would harm ordinary Iranians.
Belief: Isn't the Iranian regime irrational and crazed, so that a doctrine of mutally assured destruction just would not work with them?
Actuality: Iranian politicians are rational actors. If they were madmen, why haven't they invaded any of their neighbors? Saddam Hussein of Iraq invaded both Iran and Kuwait. Israel invaded its neighbors more than once. In contrast, Iran has not started any wars. Demonizing people by calling them unbalanced is an old propaganda trick. The US elite was once unalterably opposed to China having nuclear science because they believed the Chinese are intrinsically irrational. This kind of talk is a form of racism.
Belief: The international community would not have put sanctions on Iran, and would not be so worried, if it were not a gathering nuclear threat.
Actuality: The centrifuge technology that Iran is using to enrich uranium is open-ended. In the old days, you could tell which countries might want a nuclear bomb by whether they were building light water reactors (unsuitable for bomb-making) or heavy-water reactors (could be used to make a bomb). But with centrifuges, once you can enrich to 5% to fuel a civilian reactor, you could theoretically feed the material back through many times and enrich to 90% for a bomb. However, as long as centrifuge plants are being actively inspected, they cannot be used to make a bomb. The two danger signals would be if Iran threw out the inspectors or if it found a way to create a secret facility. The latter task would be extremely difficult, however, as demonstrated by the CIA's discovery of the Qom facility construction in 2006 from satellite photos. Nuclear installations, especially centrifuge ones, consume a great deal of water, construction materiel, and so forth, so that constructing one in secret is a tall order. In any case, you can't attack and destroy a country because you have an intuition that they might be doing something illegal. You need some kind of proof. Moreover, Israel, Pakistan and India are all much worse citizens of the globe than Iran, since they refused to sign the NPT and then went for broke to get a bomb; and nothing at all has been done to any of them by the UNSC.
When it comes to politicized intelligence in the Bush years, the critics may finally have a point. Perhaps the work of America's intelligence agencies was manipulated to suit the convenience of a small group of willful officials, intent on getting their way against the better judgment of their colleagues.
Except the intelligence was about Iran, not Iraq, and the manipulators weren't conniving neocons but rather the Administration's internal critics on the left.
That's one way to look at last month's revelation that Iran is building a secret second site to enrich uranium, among other emerging intelligence details. The Qom site—too small for civilian purposes but ideal for producing weapons-grade uranium—is supervised by Iran's Revolutionary Guards and was only declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency after Tehran got wind that the nuclear watchdogs knew about it.
But the more telling detail, as a recent White House "guidance paper" acknowledges, is that the U.S. has been "carefully observing and analyzing this facility for several years." That timeline is significant, because it was less than two years ago, in December 2007, that a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear programs asserted with "high confidence" that Tehran had "halted its nuclear weapons program" in the fall of 2003.
The NIE was a political sensation, seized on by Democrats and Iraq war critics as another case in which the Bush Administration had supposedly politicized intelligence. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the NIE a "declaration of victory," and it derailed any hopes for the Bush Administration to garner international support for tougher sanctions on Iran.
Yet some of us noted at the time that the NIE added, in a crucial footnote, that by "nuclear weapons program" it meant "weapon design and weaponization work and . . . uranium enrichment-related work," rather than Iran's "declared" nuclear facilities. The NIE's main authors—including former intelligence official Tom Fingar and other internal critics of Bush Administration policies—downplayed this critical detail. Never mind that it was precisely Iran's "declared" nuclear facilities that constituted the core element of any nuclear-weapons program.
Fast forward to the present, and it turns out the NIE was misleading even on its own terms: Iran did have a covert facility, perhaps for enrichment, and the intelligence community knew or at least strongly suspected it. We are also learning that the NIE's judgment puts the U.S. intelligence community at odds with its counterparts in Britain, Germany and Israel, which have evidence to show that Iran resumed its weaponization work after 2003.
The Wall Street Journal Europe reported on July 30 that Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND, "has amassed evidence of a sophisticated Iranian nuclear weapons program that continued beyond 2003. This usually classified information comes courtesy of Germany's highest state-security court. In a 30-page legal opinion on March 26 and a May 27 press release in a case about possible illegal trading with Iran, a special national security panel of the Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe cites from a May 2008 BND report, saying the agency 'showed comprehensively' that 'development work on nuclear weapons can be observed in Iran even after 2003.'"
The 2007 NIE also contradicts the findings of the usually hypercautious IAEA, which concluded in a recent analysis that Iran "has sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device." The word "implosion" is especially significant because it means Iran is likely seeking to design a warhead compact enough to be fitted atop one of its increasingly capable ballistic missiles.
It's of course possible that the U.S. has it right and everyone else has it wrong. But given the stakes if Iran does get the bomb, and given everything we know about Iran's history of deception, the obligation of intelligence agencies is not to issue politically skewed "estimates" that derail U.S. policy to stop the Iranian program. Getting it wrong on Iran—the most crucial intelligence question of the decade—would be no small footnote in the CIA's history of intelligence blunders.
Re: IAEA Again Verifies Iranian Compliance-Neo-crazy Media Sycophants Drum for W
« Reply #72 on: 2009-10-09 11:24:51 »
The still-missing central fact in the Iran drama
[ Hermit : It seems our Troll Dees/Salamantis can still be relied upon to get everything possible wrong as he brainlessly spews neocon talking points no matter how daft they might be. Beyond observing that examination of the beginning of this thread will show that unlike Israel, the 60,000 lb nuclear, biological and chemically armed turd hiding in plain sight in the Middle East, no sustainable evidence* has ever been provided to anyone that Iran has ever had a nuclear weapons program, I won't bother with much in the way of personal opinion on this one. Aside from failing to notice that the "too small for civilian purposes" claim is also a lie (being a transparent fallacy, probably deliberate), Glenn Greenwald has done a perfectly good job refuting this nonsense in advance.
*Ignoring such travesties as a laptop provided by the Mossad to the MEK, an American-Israeli supported anti-Iranian terrorist group, who passed it on to the CIA who later provided some of the data on it to the IAEA simultaneously eliding a perfectly legal covert program to develop a nuclear reprocessing capability and an apparently totally imaginary nuclear weapons program. ]
[ Glenn Greenwald was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of two New York Times Bestselling books: "How Would a Patriot Act?" (May, 2006), a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, and "A Tragic Legacy" (June, 2007), which examines the Bush legacy. His most recent book, "Great American Hypocrites", examines the manipulative electoral tactics used by the GOP and propagated by the establishment press, and released in April, 2008, by Random House/Crown. ]
Ever since Iran reported the existence of its Qom enrichment facility to the IAEA, one central assertion has been repeated as fact over and over by the American media to make the story as incriminating as possible: namely, that Iran only disclosed this because they discovered they had been "caught," i.e., they found out that the West knew of this facility and they thus had no choice but to disclose it. That assertion has been fundamental to the entire Iran drama. After all, if Iran voluntarily notified the IAEA of the Qom facility before it was even operational and thus agreed to have the facility inspected, it's impossible to maintain the melodramatic storyline that Iran was planning something deeply nefarious here and got "caught red-handed." The assertion that Iran was forced into disclosure is vital to the entire plot, and it's been constantly repeated as fact.
But ever since this episode began, I've read countless accounts from numerous sources and never once saw a single piece of evidence to support this claim -- and I've been actively looking for it and asking if anyone has seen such evidence. Today in Time Magazine, Bobby Ghosh writes of an exclusive interview he conducted with CIA Director Leon Panetta about Qom, in which Panetta claims the CIA knew of the facility for three years. After describing Panetta's account of how the CIA discovered the site and how they learned it was designed for uranium enrichment, this paragraph appears:
U.S. officials believe that it was only when Iran found out that its cover had been blown that it chose to own up to the plant's existence -- although how it might have learned of Washington's discovery remains unclear. On the eve of the U.N. General Assembly last month, the Iranians sent the IAEA a terse note, acknowledging the presence of the Qum facility.
Does that sound like the CIA actually knows whether Iran ever even discovered "that its cover had been blown," let alone that this was the reason the Iranians disclosed the facility to the IAEA? Obviously not. Time can say only that U.S. officials (unnamed, of course) "believe" that this happened -- based on what? -- but cannot even say how Iran might have learned of the U.S. discovery (that's "unclear"). Plainly, at least according to this account and every other that I've seen, there are no known facts to support the claim that this is what motivated Iran's IAEA disclosure. It's just something that gets asserted without any challenge or questioning.
Just this weekend, a New York Times Editorial flatly asserted: "Of course, Iran didn’t even acknowledge that it was building a plant near Qum until last week after it was caught red-handed." In fact, the Times has no idea whether Iran's disclosure to the IAEA had anything to do with that or whether Iran even knew that the West had learned of the Qom facility. Worse, the very first news story the Times published about this matter -- the day after the Press Conference with the leaders of the U.S., Britain and France -- contained this sentence: "At some point in late spring, American officials became aware that Iranian operatives had learned that the site was being monitored, the officials said." There's no evidence at all for that critical claim, and the Time article today unintentionally casts doubt on it by making clear that this is nothing more than a "belief" of unnamed American "officials."
Obviously, it's possible that the U.S. really did learn three years ago that Qom was an enrichment facility, that Iran somehow found out that this was the case, and that it was this that prompted the Iranians to disclose to the IAEA. But that's a mere possibility, an unproven assertion from government officials which, at least as of now, they're not even claiming is certain. But it's also obviously quite possible that Iran voluntarily disclosed this facility to the IAEA because they're willing to allow inspections, believe their NPT obligations require disclosure 180 days prior to operability (which is what they've claimed since 2007), and intend to use it for civilian purposes and thus have nothing to hide. Since the claim about Iran's motives for disclosure is the linchpin of all the hysteria -- the vital fact that makes what Iran did appear sinister -- shouldn't newspapers refrain from repeating it as though it's proven and make clear to their readers that this is but one of several possibilities: one for which absolutely no evidence has been presented?
UPDATE: FAIR has an instructive review of some of the reckless (though very familiar) media hysteria regarding Iran over the last couple of weeks.
UPDATE II: In a Wall St. Journal Editorial today, Rupert Murdoch's print employees accuse "the [Bush] Administration's internal critics on the left" of manipulating the intelligence to cause the 2007 NIE to conclude that Iran stopped active work on a nuclear weapons program back in 2003 (apparently, the CIA is overrun with "leftists"), and to do so, the WSJ Editors haul out this same dubious assertion as though it's proven, unchallengeable truth:
The Qom site—too small for civilian purposes but ideal for producing weapons-grade uranium— is supervised by Iran's Revolutionary Guards and was only declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency after Tehran got wind that the nuclear watchdogs knew about it. [ Hermit : It should also be noted that Reuters has reported that Iran notified the IAEA (and the world) that they would be using a new, more efficient type of centrifuge developed in Iran in their new facility, which would explain the smaller site and pre-emptively invalidated the often repeated allegation, first made public by the queen of the Washington Likudniks, Hillary Clinton, that the Qom site is "too small for civilian purposes." ]
It's virtually impossible to find anyone railing against Iran without relying on the "fact" that Iran only notified the IAEA of the Qom facility after (and because) "Tehran got wind that the nuclear watchdogs knew about it" -- even though there's absolutely no evidence for it.
The WSJ Editorial does unintentionally highlight one towering contradiction in all of these claims: if (a) the CIA has known about the Qom facility for three years (as Panetta claims); and (b) it's so clear that it is designed for military, not civilian uses, then (c) why did the NIE -- the consensus of American intelligence agencies -- conclude in 2007 that "Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains frozen"? That conclusion was affirmed at a time when the CIA knew of the Qom facility. Doesn't that rather obviously raise serious doubts about how "clear" it is that the facility could only be designed for military purposes?
Re: IAEA Again Verifies Iranian Compliance-Neo-crazy Media Sycophants Drum for W
« Reply #73 on: 2009-10-16 13:36:44 »
Report: Israel Eyes Ground Strikes in Iran Next Year
Israeli Elite Forces Could Sabotage Facilities, Assassinate Scientists
[ Hermit : So we again have the nuclear armed, belligerent Israelis apparently planning an illegal attack on another country and potentially destabilizing the worlds most significant energy supplying region with potentially catastrophic economic consequences, nobody saying a word against it, and the neocons cheering them on. ]
Source: Antiwar.com Authors: Jason Ditz Dated: , October 15, 2009
Le Canard Enchaîné, a French weekly newspaper famous for its humorous tone and penchant for uncovering leaks, is reporting on indications that the Israeli military is planning to launch ground strikes into Iranian territory some time after December. Israeli Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi
In this event, the Israeli forces would sneak into Iran and conduct sabotage missions against the nation’s nuclear infrastructure. They would also attempt to assassinate top scientists. The claim was bolstered by reports that the Israeli military has ordered reservists from its elite units home in recent weeks and placed an order for combat ration for the soldiers.
Re: IAEA Again Verifies Iranian Compliance-Neo-crazy Media Sycophants Drum for W
« Reply #74 on: 2009-11-03 13:45:13 »
Can Iran Trust Russia and France With Its Uranium?
Source: Antiwar.com Authors: Muhammad Sahimi Dated: 2009-11-03
Muhammad Sahimi, professor of chemical engineering and materials science and the NIOC professor of petroleum engineering at the University of Southern California, has published extensively on Iran's nuclear program and its political developments.
Iran’s formal response to a preliminary nuclear agreement whereby 1,200 kg of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) would be shipped to Russia and then France for enrichment from 3.8 to 19.75 percent and conversion to fuel rods has angered the European Union (EU). The compromise had been agreed upon between Iran’s delegation to the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) and the technical teams from the P5+1 group comprising the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany.
Iran suggested that it would ship its LEU in several batches, rather than all at once, in order to guarantee that once the LEU is converted to fuel rods, it will be returned to Iran. But EU diplomats rejected this suggestion quickly and angrily. "This is completely unacceptable," one diplomat declared, saying the EU was preparing its common response.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, whose country holds told the EU’s rotating presidency, told the Associated Press at an EU Summit in Brussels, "It is the same old tricks, a back-and-forth for further talks."
One diplomat close to the talks between Iran and the P5+1 group told the Daily Telegraph of London, "It’s like playing chess with a monkey. You get them to checkmate, and then they swallow the king."
But is Iran’s counterproposal just a "trick," or is there more to it? The main sticking point is France. In addition to the fact that French President Nicolas Sarkozy has taken the hardest line of all EU leaders on Iran, using threatening language ever since he was elected, history gives Iranians little reason to trust France. This distrust has nothing to do with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government, its loss of legitimacy in the eyes of a large majority of the Iranian people, or the internal problems it faces.
Eurodif is a consortium that operates a uranium enrichment plant in France. The consortium was founded in 1973 by France, Belgium, Spain, and Sweden. In June 1974, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and Dr. Akbar Etemad, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, visited Paris. France and Iran then ratified an earlier agreement, according to which France was to supply five 1,000-MW nuclear reactors with enriched uranium and help set up a nuclear research center in Iran.
To ensure that Iran would receive the LEU, the shah agreed to buy Sweden’s 10 percent share in Eurodif. Cogéma, a French-government subsidiary, and Iran established the Sofidif (Société Franco-Iranienne pour l’enrichissement de l’uranium par diffusion gazeuse), with 60 percent owned by France and the rest by Iran. Sofidif then purchased 25 percent of Eurodif, thereby giving Iran its 10 percent share of the latter.
Iran paid $1 billion in 1975 and $180 million in 1977 in return for the right to 10 percent of the LEU production of the company. But the 1979 Revolution overthrew the shah in February 1979. Since then, France has refused to deliver Iran’s share of the LEU or to refund Iran with interest. Thus, there are solid historical reasons for Iran to be suspicious of France.
Iran also has historical grounds for distrusting Russia. Russia took large parts of Iran’s territory in the Caucasus region in 1813 and 1827 and never relinquished them. Russia also helped the counterrevolutionaries during Iran’s Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1911 and was opposed, through its Iranian proxies, to Iran’s industrialization in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Soviet Union refused to leave Iran at the end of World War II until it was pressured by the West in 1946. It took advantage of Iran’s weak government and looted Iran’s caviar and fisheries in the Caspian Sea from 1927 until the mid-1950s, when the CIA coup returned the shah’s Western-backed regime to power. It was only then that a bilateral agreement was signed between the two nations.
The Soviet Union and Iran signed two treaties in 1921 and 1940 that forbade the two nations from taking unilateral actions regarding the natural resources of the Caspian Sea, yet Russia has done exactly that, signing bilateral agreements, over Iran’s strong objections, with the other littoral states, namely, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan.
And it has become an annual ritual for Russia to announce at the beginning of every year that the 1,000-MW light-water nuclear reactor that it is building in Bushehr will come online by middle of the year. When the middle of the year arrives, it is announced that the reactor will come online by "early next year." Iran has gone along with this, simply because the hardliners need Russia as a strategic partner. Otherwise, Russia is even less trustworthy than France.
Note that there is strong opposition to the agreement both within Iran and in the diaspora among Iranian nationalists. Mir Hossein Mousavi, the main opposition leader, has called the agreement "astonishing." Last week he said, "If the Geneva agreement is implemented by Iran, it will destroy the work and achievements of thousands of Iranian scientists, and if it is not, it will create consensus for imposing very broad sanctions on Iran. They [the hardliners] constantly accuse the revolutionary nation-serving children of Iran of having links with the West or East, but they themselves bow to the U.S. overtly and repeatedly [in order to reach an agreement with it]."
In a statement released on Saturday, Mousavi once again criticized the Geneva agreement. Some believe that Mousavi is opposed to the deal partly because of his opposition to Ahmadinejad, but it was during his premiership in the 1980s that Iran’s nuclear program was restarted, and he was a leading proponent of it.
Dr. Etemad, who is in his eighties and lives in exile in France, said in an interview, "This is a bad deal. They [the P56+1 group] want to get Iran’s uranium. There is no trust in Russia or France that if they received Iran’s uranium, they will return it. They have broken their promises in the past."
Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi, Iran’s foreign minister in the first year after the 1979 Revolution, who now leads the Freedom Movement (a reformist party in Iran), also said, "This is a meaningless agreement. Iran has invested billions of dollars for uranium enrichment, but now does this [shipping the LEU to Russia and France]?"
Dr. Yazdi continued, "It is not in Iran’s interests for the nuclear crisis to continue. An agreement must be reached. As Iran suggested, an international consortium should be set up in Iran to enrich uranium, but not Iran shipping its uranium to Russia or another place. If this is just a temporary solution to lessen the crisis, break the deadlock, and build trust it is acceptable. Then, in the next phase of the negotiation Iran should say, ‘there is no reason to ship the uranium to another country. I have invested in this. Let’s set up a consortium to enrich uranium in Iran.’"
There is even heated debate among Iranian hardliners and conservatives, although some of it may be purely tactical and for public consumption. Many of them, including Ali Larijani, the speaker of the parliament, have accused the West of wanting to steal Iran’s LEU.
Larijani’s brother, Sadegh, who is Iran’s judiciary chief, also criticized the agreement, saying, "This is not in our country’s interest. According to the NPT, advanced countries [that enrich uranium] must provide us the enriched uranium that we need [for the research reactor]."
In a letter to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has also expressed concerns about the agreement. He has reminded Khamenei of the heavy cost of the uranium enrichment program for Iran and has said that the agreement is not in Iran’s interest.
As usual, experts in the United States also spin the issue to their own liking. Asked whether it matters if Iran sends all of its LEU in one shipment, David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security, said, "Well, that’s right. If it shipped 100 milligrams a month every month they could replenish that amount. So it needs to be shipped out in one batch in order for this to be meaningful."
But Iran has not suggested sending milligrams of its LEU every month. Albright also did not explain how, if Iran’s 1500 kg of LEU is enough for making one nuclear bomb, sending a significant fraction of it, even in a smaller batch than the EU wants, does not eliminate the possibility of Iran making a bomb – never mind that there is no evidence Iran even wants to.